Princess One Point Five- What Doesn’t Kill You

Hiding dark lyrics under pretty pop songs is one of the oldest tricks in the book, however on Princess One Point Five’s (or P 1.5 for those of you who like to abbreviate) latest album What Doesn’t Kill You they do it with such style that they truly make it there own.

A collaboration between Sarah-Jane Wentzki and Richard Andrew (Underground Lovers), the duo have created an album that strikes the perfect balance between beautiful and bitter. Despite being a joint effort, there is no doubt that Wentzki is the star of the show, with her gorgeous vocals and quirky personality stamped all over this album. While it could all seem like overkill, the addition of instrumental tracks Start and Interlude add a great amount of space to the album and allow Richard Andrew’s talents to really shine through.

It’s impossible to talk about this album without mentioning the Triple J approved single Today. Featuring delicate guitar and the memorable chorus of ‘What the hell is with today, today,’ the breezy track showcases P 1.5 at their bittersweet best. Following in a similar vein is the heartbreakingly beautiful You’re Not Ready, which is one of the least cheerful tracks on the album, but also one of most brilliant.  I Dare You sounds like it could be a Sarah Blasko song. Beginning with just piano and vocals, it springs to life when the band kicks in, adding a perfect amount of depth.

The piano-heavy Your Wedding Day is the perfect soundtrack to a massive disappointment. You can almost picture Sarah-Jane Wentzki sitting glumly in a party dress crying into a bottle of gin. Luckily the Blondie influenced Quote Me manages to lift the mood with more of an upbeat pop sound. It’s no doubt the catchiest track on the album and will have you singing along involuntarily. The album begins to lose steam towards the last few tracks. Fly My Pretties is dark and atmospheric and shows how versatile the band can be, however it never really goes anywhere and is lacking any kind of build-up. The short ballad All That You Thought only clocks in at two and half minutes, with most of that being instrumental. While it’s certainly pretty, it sounds underdeveloped when compared to the previous songs.  The captivating final track All You Are redeems all this by layering all P 1.5’s different elements together to create the perfect package.

Princess One Point Five have created an album that is equally dark, cheerful and most importantly, beautiful. If you’ve ever enjoyed a depressing break-up song or secretly sung along to The Veronicas in the car, then there is no doubt that this is the album for you.

Advertisements

Ernest Ellis @ The NSC 16/07/10

Photo: Jack Crane

When it’s a ridiculously cold Melbourne night you really only have two options for entertainment: snuggle under a doona or head to your favourite live music venue to catch one of Australia’s most promising bands. The crowd that gathered at the Northcote Social Club to see Ernest Ellis in their first Melbourne headline show certainly made the right decision.

The choice to have the headline act start after 11pm was a puzzling one and left Goodnight Owl playing to an almost empty room for the first half of their set. This didn’t seem to deter them however, as they serenaded the growing crowd with their brand of lush indie pop. Beginning with an impressive remix of Seekae’s Void, it showed how the band have come a long way since the release of their debut EP last year, with the most notable difference being drummer Eric Moore who breathes new life into some of the older tracks. Unfortunately he had to leave halfway through Goodnight Owl’s set, resulting in the slower songs being played last, making the set seem a little unbalanced. The electronic glitches from the single Maps and Compasses worked surprisingly well in a live setting and would delight any fan of the Postal Service. The band’s final song was Red Wolf, about singer Eddie Alexander’s dog that died last year. While it was a bit of a depressing note to end their set on it showcased Alexander’s great falsetto. Judging by the number of EPs that flew off the merch stand, there is no doubt the band earned themselves some new fans.

Gosteleradio features members from Plug-In City and TTT who are obviously very competent musicians however it became very clear that many members of the audience were bored during their set, with many fiddling with their phones or sitting on the floor.  Their psychedelic folk tinged rock seemed to fall flat and many of the subtler moments of their music were lost in the live setting, which often left them sounding like little more than an Oasis tribute band. At times it felt like they were playing one long continuous song. There were signs of what they can really do shining through, such as their use of looping and their single Guillotine but overall it was a disappointing set. Here’s hoping it was just an off night, because given the right setting, they have the potential to be amazing.

After a short wait, the members of Ernest Ellis emerged on stage, to the delight of the crowd. On their stunning debut album Hunting their songs boarder on the atmospheric folk-rock side of things, however from the moment the band launch into Want For Anything it becomes clear that tonight will be all about showcasing their indie-rock side. Ellis’ voice in often hiding under reverb on record, but live it is a completely different beast, ranging from falsetto to pained screams. This is most obvious in Pulse that saw him transition from calm to completely insane in under four minutes. The pulsing bass from Ben Morgan was definitely a highlight, as was the steady percussion from Mat Gardner. After telling us that he left his acoustic guitar back home, he performed a solo version of Valley Song on electric guitar, which left the entire room silent, hanging on his every work. Morgan joined in for backing vocals, making it something truly special.

Dancing is not something you would expect to see at an Ernest Ellis show, but it’s exactly what happened during Taking Shapes and it didn’t stop until the very end of the set. Triple J favourite Heading for the Cold was a hit with the crowd and saw the majority of people clapping along. It sounded even better with a full live band behind the vocals and was a much faster version than what we are used to hearing. Loveless lost some of its restrained charm in the live setting, but the crowd didn’t seem to care. Ellis told the crowd that there would be no encore but invited everyone up on stage at the end of the set, before launching into Bad Blood which saw the band rocking almost as much as the crowd, however nobody took up the offer of a stage invasion.

Ernest Ellis have carved quite a name for themselves in the Australian music scene and it’s easy to see why. Their live show is both entertaining and moving and despite many missing the last tram home, the crowd would be more than happy to have them back in Melbourne.

Charlie Mayfair- Watch My Hands

As much as it pains me to say it, folk-pop doesn’t have the greatest of reputations. At times it has the tendency to be so boring that it could almost be used as a cure for insomnia. Other times it can become so cutesy, that listening to it can feel like you’ve just eaten a few too many cupcakes. Brisbane five piece Charlie Mayfair manage to avoid both these problems on their debut EP Watch My Hands.

Since forming just six months ago, they have shared the stage with the likes of Skipping Girl Vinegar, Montpelier, and Iceland’s Svavar Knutur and judging from Watch My Hands, it’s easy to see why. Combining male and female vocals, three-part harmonies and memorable music, they have a winning formula that could make even the Grinch crack a smile.

Title track Watch My Hands is a perfect introduction to the band, despite sounding very different to the other tracks on the EP. Featuring delicate male and female harmonies, it wouldn’t seem out of place on a film soundtrack. While the build-up doesn’t really reach the heights that it potentially could, the song is so pretty that it’s hardly a problem. Sing Me To Sleep almost sounds like a salsa song, with rhythmic guitar and a great use of horns. While the harmonies are mostly absent, the use of a singular female vocalist stops them from being overused and suits the track very well. It isn’t what you would expect on this kind of release, but fits in surprisingly well with the rest of the tracks.

If radio had any sense they would be all over the EP’s single Run. Although the more conventional instrumentation makes it the least interesting track on the EP, it’s a sweet, catchy love song that sounds very much like something Skipping Girl Vinegar would approve of. If I Fall Down makes great use of male and female vocals and has a bit of an alt-country vibe going on, keeping the EP interesting.  Please Stay is a slow duet that showcases the chemistry between singers Dave Di Marco and Anna Shepherd and is a great way to end the EP.

Watch My Hands would be an accomplished EP for a band who has been around for a few years, let alone a few months. Judging from this release, there’s no doubt that we’ll be hearing some pretty amazing stuff from Charlie Mayfair in the future

Matt Corby @ The Toff 08/07/10

Matt Corby was only 16 when he was the runner-up on the 2007 series of Australia Idol. A lot has changed since then. He’s grown a beard, released an EP and has proved that it is possible for decent music to come out of a reality TV show. Tonight a sold-out, mostly female crowd braved Melbourne’s weather to watch him launch the debut single from his upcoming album.

Thanks to Melbourne’s wonderful public transport system, I managed to miss most of Ben Abraham’s set. What I did see was great. Joined by a guitarist, he played the kind of laid back folk music that would make Jack Johnson feel slightly inferior. He performed a great acoustic cover of Gotye’s Heart’s a Mess, complete with an enthusiastic crowd sing-a-long. If there’s one thing that has to be said about Ben Abraham’s set, it’s his brilliant knack at crowd interaction. And after telling us that we works with the Starlight Foundation, there wasn’t a woman in the audience who didn’t want to take him home to meet their mum. He finished with his track Going Crazy, which also featured a crowd-sing-a-long, with two sides of the room trying to out sing each other. There’s no doubt that the mostly seated crowd loved every minute of it.

Sadly, the same cannot be said for Tara Simmons. Emerging on stage in an impressive reflective outfit, she spent the set behind her keyboard playing a mixture of offbeat pop songs that varied between the sounds of Regina Spektor and La Roux. While here songs were good, she didn’t engage the audience and it was clear that many lost interest during her set. That said there were still some great moments. She introduced each song, and the story behind it, which worked effectively with the tracks Everybody Loves You, about her brother when he was sick and my personal favourite Rosemary a track a dedicated to a particularly unpleasant customer at work. Part of the crowd disinterest was probably due to her playing before Matt Corby and there’s no doubt she would be a million times better in a headline show.

After a bit of a wait and the heater being turned up to uncomfortable levels, Matt Corby and his band took to the stage and were greeted by a cheering crowd. As soon as he opens his mouth to sing it becomes instantly clear why he did so well on Australian Idol. His voice is amazing and manages to silence an entire room full of eager female fans, which is no easy feat. He sings over loops of his voice, much like an Australian Bon Iver and adds layers that make him stand out from the rest of the singer-songwriter pack. He launches straight into My False, a Mumford and Sons style folk song with a whistling solo that has the potential to get stuck in your head for days.

While the tempo did slow down from there, it was by no means boring. He told the crowd about getting lost on the way to Melbourne and having a pay for a parking ticket before launching into some more tracks. While most of the songs he played were not on his Songs For… EP, the crowd didn’t lose interest and he was met with thunderous applause at each song’s finish. One of the definite highlights of the night was Letters, a sweet acoustic song that was the public’s first glimpse into the kind of music that he could create. Switching to keys for the last two songs, he played a jazz inspired number that fit in well with the rest of the set.

As soon as he left the stage the chants for an encore began. He introduced the final track of the night as the song he wished he’d written before putting on a deep voice and launching into a cover of Amazing Grace, which understandably, had a mixed reaction from the crowd.

Matt Corby is one of those rare artists who have escaped the reality TV mould to create moving and interesting music and if tonight was anything to go by, we’ll be hearing a lot more from him.

You can hear some of his tracks on his Triple J Unearthed page.

Epic Festival 2010

Hands up if you enjoy(ed) being underage?

Umm….so that’s about three of you.

Aside from the almost complete lack of responsiblity there really aren’t that many upsides to being under 18. You can’t legally drink, drive or err…vote. The worst thing  for many music fans though is not being able to go to overage gigs. Sure there’s music festivals, but they cost a fourtune and only happen once a year. Or there’s the Freeza program, which put on gigs which usually feature terrible hardcore bands. When you combine both of these things however, the results can be pretty damn good.

Boroondara Freeza are trying to offer gigs for under 18s who like music without too much screaming and are bringing back the Epic Fesitval in 2010. The previous festival in 2008 was a great sucess and featured British India as headliners.

This year’s Epic Festival is combined with the pushstart battle of the bands and the second launch of “Waffle On” magazine which is written entirely by young people and will include free food (and who doesn’t like free food?). Entry is only $10 and the line-up is:

Howl

The Rhetorics

Theives In Law

The Quarters

Battle Preist

Amber Lamps

Blanks

How good is that?