Fellow TWYE contributor, Zohara, will be doing the rounds in Europe for the next few months so you may find a few reports from her travels. She is particularly excited about this London show and here’s why.
In Australia it is not always easy to get a physical copy of the music you want. Last year neo-classical Icelandic musician Ólafur Arnalds, released “…and they have escaped the weight of darkness”. I raced around to small independent record stores and to larger music stores but to no avail was I able to find a copy that I could take home that day. The only option was is to get it shipped over from another country. I’ve been listening to his music since I came across his “Found Songs” project on a blog where he wrote and recorded one song per day for one week. This is when his music tapped into a plethora of feelings and emotions within me, even without the use of lyrics or vocal harmonies. I’ve been smitten ever since.
I am visiting Iceland in a few weeks time. I was crossing my fingers that Ólafur Arnalds may be playing when I am there, since I can’t imagine he’d be coming to Australia any time soon, but I heard he was on tour elsewhere. Turns out that he’s playing his new songs (and perhaps some old too) at The Tabernacle on the 7th of February which is the night I arrive in London! Hallelujah! So until then I’ll sit on the plane and brush up on Icelandic language and try to pronounce all of his songs and figure out what they translate to.
For anyone in London, come join! (Unless it’s sold out)
7th February 2011 @ The Tabernacle, 34-35 Powis Square, London
Philadelphia Grand Jury is here to provide the antidote to our mundane existence, they are here to blow our socks off and get us fit by causing mass hysteria and the burning off a tonne of calories. The cheeky trio just finished supporting Yves Klein Blue on their Ragged & Ecstatic tour and almost instantly kick-started their first headline tour, I’m Going To Kill You.
Photo: Jorge Cerda-Vargas
On Friday night The Philly Jays graced the stage of Spectrum and drew an insanely large audience with old and new fans alike. The trio, MC Bad Genius, Berkfinger and Dan W. Sweat, once again showed why they are some of Sydney’s favourite guys, starting off the set with a new tune followed by their popular and extremely infectious tunes such as “Going To The Casino”, “I’m Going To Kill You” and “Ready To Roll”. Out of the blue they pulled out the first song I ever heard from them called “Dotti, No!” and let me tell you, there wasn’t a still foot in the house. Along with their tradition they amused everyone with their recorded banter in between songs and closed the set out with “I Don’t Want To Party” for nothing more than sheer instrument abuse.
Photo: Cybele Malinowski
Yves Klein Blue have just released their debut album Ragged & Ecstatic – an unpredictable, 12-track composition of wailing vocals and a diversity of instruments; the album definitely exhibits the versatility of the Brisbane quartet captured under the bright lights of Hollywood. The opening track “Make Up Your Mind” was a struggle however the preceding track “Getting Wise” with it’s catchy melody is definitely a track where you bust out the air
guitar piano. “Digital Love” feels dark but that’s what I like about it – it’s separated itself from Yves Klein Blue’s other tunes and has delved into unpredictable territory with sensual undertones. Ragged & Ecstatic manages to slip in an acoustic mood mid-way through the album but the boys re-emerge with their ska-type of energy in “Summer Sheets” – an optimistic track that really lifts the album. “Polka” is definitely the stand out from Ragged & Ecstatic and with it’s infectious melody, you would probably agree.
[MP3] Yves Klein Blue – Polka
Ragged & Ecstatic is out now through Dew Process.
Preceding Sunday’s Laneway Festival there were threats of a scorching weekend in Sydney of temperatures in the high 30s and approaching early 40s, so sure, everyone got a bit paranoid after seeing the footage of the horrific fires running through Victoria. But arriving at the gates of the Laneway festival near Circular Quay the heat that was expected was not evident which was comforting to those of us who knew we would get cramped in narrow laneways and in The Basement. Alas! As I shuffled my way up to get my tickets scanned I was stopped for numerous minutes after a young blonde girl was caught with a flask of alcohol in her bag. tsk tsk. But she got off scott-free, they just took her flask. Knowing me I wanted to see her get booted out, there are rules for a reason, but I think I wanted to see it happen because I do like drama sometimes. It amuses me. Plus, I could feel the sun on my skin and it was starting to burn to that 30something degrees that was predicted over the past 7 days. Buzz. I was through the entrance and inside the mouth of the festival.
The first thing I did was bounce over to see Philadelphia Grand Jury who didn’t do a bad job at drawing a bit of a crowd in Reiby Pl, but as per usual people just stood and watched like robots. The only exception was obvious through some sing-alongs and foot-tapping to ‘Going To The Casino’ which has had radio play and was played on the new Underbelly. Gasp! But in the tradition of seeing PGJ my friend Mel and I shook our hips, jumped, screamed out lyrics and swung our hair around..with the addition of jumping around like kangaroos. We’re pretty sure they loved it.
Photo: Roger Sargent
So we have slipped into the new year, leaving behind 2008. Alas, we won’t forget 2008 too quickly! It is voting time for Triple J’s Hottest 100 for 2008 and Sydney’s own Sparkadia have three songs up in the running as contenders in the Hottest 100. The guys (and girl) returned back home after being overseas and released “Postcards” halfway through the year, they are now celebrating the great year they just had by offering a free download of “Too Much To Do” which has been vamped up by NYC-based producer Buffalo Bill. I usually hate remixes down to the bone..but Mr Bill hasn’t hacked the song to death and it’s quite listenable.
[MP3] Sparkadia – Too Much To Do (Buffalo Bill Mix)
And if any of Sparkadia’s tracks float your boat, why not vote for them in the Hottest 100? If not, why not vote for some of your favourite tunes of 2008. I’m already ticking off my favourite tracks…
Martin of Boundary Sounds isn’t a mad scientist with a Doctorate of Philosophy, although he runs under the name of PhDJ. Rather, this Sydney indie party DJ has gathered some of his favourite tunes and made them into a mixtape, just in time for the silly season and silly parties that go hand-in-hand with the festivities. Oh what a sweet xmas pressie.
PhDJ has done all the work, now all you have to do is go here, download the mixtape, transfer it to a cd, give it away for xmas to the cute girl/boy you see at every gig and pretend you totally made up the mixtape…Once she/he thinks you are uber cool you can take her to Manning Bar for the PURPLE SNEAKERS NEW YEAR’S EVE PARTY where PhDJ will be on stage along with those French dudes, The Teenagers, some of our favourite local bands including Sparkadia and Bluejuice as well as UK kids, Frightened Rabbit. Nom nom nom nom.
WIN ! WIN ! WIN ! WIN ! WIN ! WIN ! WIN ! WIN ! WIN ! WIN ! WIN ! WIN ! WIN ! WIN ! WIN !
I have a double pass to give away to one lucky lovely TWYE’s reader. Just tell me here in 25 words or less what song you like in PhDJ’s mixtape and why.
Jonathan Wilson from Speak n Spell (and previous Starky member) kindly took some time out of his busy schedule whilst roaming around LA to tell us what albums, EPs and singles have rocked his socks in 2008:
- Deerhunter- Microcastle
In 06 Deerhunter released Crytograms. Put it this way, it was their Bends. Cryptograms was an album that signaled the start of something fucking amazing, something original and unique to what was happening around the world. If that was the Bends, Microcastle has definitely lived up to being Ok Computer. While it may not have been sales compulsive like OK, it will mark a change in what kids think when wanting to make music. The band themselves leaked it months before it’s October release date. I was in LA the day it was released and lined up at Ameoba to buy it. Now that’s a fucking record, one you have illegally and you still want to own. I wish I was in this band, I wish I released this band. End of story.
- Salem- Yes I Smoke Crack ep
I stumbled across this band early in the year. This is their debut ep and was only released on 7in. Two tracks a side, so it kind of sounds shitty. The title alone was worth the 3 quid I spent on this. They remind me of very early Cocteau Twins and The Knife but are bleaker than either of those two bands could ever be. The vocals are druggy and fucked up. The beats are sparse but driven. Check them out now because I think they’ll make one of the albums of 09..
- School of Seven Bells Alpinisms
I’ve been in love with this band since their inception about two years ago. I loved Secret Machines, some might say I even had an unhealthy obsession with them. Their second record Ten Silver Drops sound tracked a break up for me a few years back. Perfect. When I discovered Ben Curtis from SM was working on a new project and it was with twin sisters Claudia and Alejandra Dehaza. I knew I had to release it. I fucking loved the girls other band On!Air!Library! so it seemed like a match made in heaven. Well it was and I’m happy I’ve released. I saw them at CMJ in NYC this year in Oct and it was brilliant. I also caught their set with M83 the other day at Music Box in LA. We’ll have them in Australia soon. They are heavenly music made by truly beautiful people.
- Beach House-Devotion
I didn’t really get Beach House for the longest time. People would rave to me about them but I just thought they were ok and that was that. Well that was that until I heard Devotion. This record is like a religious experience. The back end kills me. So drawn out, so beautiful, so fucking simple. Victoria Legrand’s voice sends my body into raptures. The reverb is enough to kill even the coldest of hearts. So yeah, I love Beach House.
- The Duke Spirit-Neptune
This is another band I’ve loved since their first ep, Roll Spirit Roll and they are also the first band I saw on my first trip to London in the name of rock and roll five years ago. They are a great fucking rock band. I’ve wanted to work with them forever and finally did on this their second record. Sunken Treasure is one of the greatest lost love songs I’ve ever heard. There is so much life in their sound and so much passion in Liela’s voice. This record is a big bold fuck you to anyone that didn’t believe they are a band to contend with. I was with them in their hotel in NYC a week ago watching their letterman performance that they’d filmed earlier that day and was a pretty special moment for me. They deserve it and they were amazing. I think their next record will completely destroy everyone.
- Jack ladder-Love Is Gone
So what if we manage him and he’s fucking amazing. This record is the real deal. Every other artist in the Aussie music scene could take a few tips from Jack Ladder and get on their merry way to making music that’s in their souls. This record is fun, inspiring, obnoxious, hilarious and cool. I like everything about the way the music has been approached. He’ll do great things in the 2009.
- Firekites- The Bowery
This record was a big part of my year. I’d been living with it in various guises for a couple of years. I’ve watched this band grow into something truly unique and original since their inception out of the ashes of the The Instant. Tim’s voice is quite something, add in Roddy’s acoustic picking that blends so well with the mash of electronic, electric and acoustic instrumentation. You get the understanding you’re really listening to something original. They don’t really sound like anything out there. I can hear elements of Kings of Convenience or Hood and maybe Radiohead but only bits of those bands. It’s sounds Australian, it sounds coastal but not in a rubbish way like Jack Johnson. I would have had them up higher and I should have put them out on Speak n Spell. I am a retard. The reason they’re in at number 7 is because I have the feeling they’ll be in at number 1 next year. I want to give them the chance to prove everything that’s been hinted at here.
- The Big Pink- Too Young To Love/Crystal Visions
So what if this one is only a single. I’ve listened to it enough to make it worthy of my top ten albums. I usually listen to it over and over so it makes up to an album length. It’s driving, sonic pop. I think it sounds like Panda Bear if he wanted to be on the radio and they’re also English which makes them instantly better. I hear 4AD are going to sign them. They’ve been touring with TV On The Radio and the singer is Mick Jones daughter. That’s fucking cool. Check them out. Their album will rule supreme in 09.
- Bright Black Morning Light-Motion To Rejoin
This band makes the sexiest music I’ve ever heard. They are pure sex, graphic yes but that’s what good music should be. It should be hot or violent or joyous or sad. I can’t stand music in the middle. I want the extremes of life laid out to me in song. Their music is breathy, sliding, slow and bluesy. I loved their first album from 2006 and got to see them perform then which was pretty magical. I spent a lot of time listening to that record while on tour with Starky. It got me through the boredom of being in a band. I’ve only had this record for less than a week but thanks to some awesome times listening while in LA it’s under my skin.
- My Disco- Paradise
I’ve always liked My Disco. I love their DIY aesthetic and Cancer was a cool album. While the parallels between Albini bands, his production and Shellacs use of Travis Bean guitars could put some people off my take is that I’d rather listen to this than another band sounding like The fucking Killers or Coldplay. Once I got over that initial thought process it became apparent that this band has one point of difference to those American acts that Albini lives and breathes. They sound Australian and I mean that in every sense of the word. Fuck Baz Lurhman and fuck Hollywood. Bands like My Disco are actually showing off our wide open spaces for what they truly are in the form of bleak sounds and minimal words. From the baron landscape that makes up their cover art to the dead air between grinding machine like sounds, this is Australian. Their album show at O.A.F. was fucking amazing. It takes a lot for me to not watch 3 songs and leave a show these days, even if I like the band. It’s called the post 30 hump. I stayed the whole set, the way the one blue light remained on never shifting and their attention to each other is a pretty amazing site to see. My Disco rule, bring on another record.
2008 has been the year that I have stepped out of my comfort zone of embracing only local independent music, but I have stretched my arms out and my auditory gustation is romancing with the delights from foreign lands. I’m a pretty avid Sydney music listener but most of my favourite bands have broken up, catapulted overseas or have been on hiatus so I have been deprived of sweet sweet music. Well, that was until I decided to dig up my roots and look elsewhere. This year was also the year that I turned to more folk/easy listening kind of bands and my love for the 60′s era shot through the roof.
So here is a list of artists that have brightened up my 2008 (in no particular order and are not necessarily ‘new’ bands):
Photo: Zohara Nguyen
- The Tallest Man On Earth – Deceiving name, but he delivered a confident, cheeky and delightful show at the Hopetoun. His tracks are a breath of fresh air with his distinct vocals and acoustic tricks. The imagery in his lyrics are swoonful.
- Teitur – I love the quality of his voice, it always strikes a chord with me. ‘Louis Louis’ always makes me stop what I’m doing and just listen.
- Band Of Horses – tear-jerkers..’The Funeral’ is a track that sounds so beautiful but so haunting. The reverb on the vocals and the continuous guitar lines conjure quiescence and reflection on the lyrical topics.
- Yann Tiersen – his blend of folk and classical music with prominent French tones always soothes me, I even listened to him as I viewed the Monet Exhibition currently on display in Sydney. It was the perfect acquaintance.
- Department Of Eagles – their varying melodic textures are charming.
- Vetiver – sweet folk/pop that would be the perfect accompaniment on a long drive with the windows down.
- Seabear and Hjaltalin – These are two of many bands that prove that Iceland is a breeding ground of lively and cleansing sounds. Seabear evoke me to imagine rolling down greeny Icelandic hills on a Sunday afternoon, where as Hjaltalin make me think about halting the rolling and just lying on the grass and staring at the clouds pass by (whilst humming along to the lyrics).
- Dr. Dog – Just because.
- Port O’Brien – fun and games these kiddies are in ‘I Woke Up Today’, but I especially am fond of ‘Stuck on a Boat’ and their solemn tracks.
- Foals – bow chicka wah wah..anatomical hearts and flowers made into a suspended mobile in a videoclip..it’s a science student’s (who luuurves music) dream. Also the fact that they perform some sort of dance-movement with their arms scores brownie points with me because no indie boys dance!
- Beirut – although his last album came out in 2007 he made me realise how amazing accordions, glockenspiels, euphoniums (and other brass friends) can be, projecting us into a daydream of sunny European land.
- Neutral Milk Hotel – nothing better than sitting at our friend’s favourite house with multiple people on guitar and a lounge room filled with people singing “Aeroplane Over The Sea”. It was a magical moment of this year..unti I broke a string in the process.
- Yndi Halda – so beautiful that they don’t even need to use words, the collaboration of the instruments do the talking.