Interview: Two Hours Traffic

It’s hard to believe sunny pop could coime out of a country associated with ice hockey and being generally freezing, but Canada’s Two Hours Traffic manage to pull it off perfectly. They’re currently in Australia supporting The Jezebels on a national tour. I was lucky enough to interview guitarist Alec O’Hanley in the middle of the sold out tour.

Electric Skeleton: How would you describe your sound?
Alec O’Hanley: Catchy, but many-headed, like a pop hydra.

ES:Your band name was taken from a passage in Romeo and Juliet. Are there other kind of literary influences in your music?
AO:Ingesting poetry can be particularly helpful – for phonetics, for sculpting the percussion of a lyric, as well as for devices that make a line catchier. We’re bookworms but because we try to write songs with broad appeal we’ve generally tried to keep the verbosity to a minimum. Rubbing one’s education in another’s face can get irritating in a hurry.

ES:How did the tour with The Jezabels come about?
AO:We bumped into them at our Sydney show this past June and they seemed very friendly, so we cooked up a sort of commonwealth cultural exchange whereby they would open for us in Canada and they in turn would reciprocate in Australia. I can’t convey what an unadulterated treat it is for us to be touring with a band of that caliber. Such good tunes, such gems of people.

ES: This will be you’re second tour to Australia. Is there anything you plan to do in Australia this time around that you missed out on last time?
AO:The last time we were here our bassist Andy tried to surf for an hour but his only tangible result was a chest rash, so if any one of the four of us gets upright this time around we’ll be content. I wouldn’t mind hitting a zoo or two as well.

ES:There seem to be a lot of amazing bands coming out of Canada. Is it a particularly good place to be in a band?
AO: It is! Much like Australia, Canada isn’t quite an indie rock mecca like the United States or Kingdom, but there’s no shortage of heavyweights (for instance, the New Pornographers or the Arcade Fire) who have proven the journey from provincial obscurity to international notoriety is feasible. Canada is also good for bands in the sense that there’s decent government support for the arts at the moment. On the downside, getting your songs into the ears of an extremely dispersed population is a daunting endeavour, but if you make yourself mobile you’ve a good hope of making a dent. Better than Siberia anyway.

ES: Are there any Canadian bands that the rest of the world should know about?
AO: Our hometown (Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island) counts some mindblowingly good bands among its thirty-five thousand citizens: English Words, Boxer The Horse, and The Danks (with whom Andy and I play, so we’re biased but whatever).

ES: What is your favourite album to listen to when you’re on tour?
Teenage Fanclub’s ‘Bandwagonesque’ has done its time in our CD player, more recently we’ve been blasting MGMT’s ‘Congratulations’ and The National’s ‘High Violet.’ The Soft Boys’ ‘Underwater Moonlight’ would be the latest earcatcher. From this part of the hemisphere we love the Hummingbirds and Dan Kelly and The Chills.

Two Hours Traffic’s latest album ‘Territory’ is out now.

Have You Heard: Carus

Carus Thompson’s music falls into that awkward gap between folk and country. His music doesn’t sound like it comes from Nashville yet he has too much swagger to fit in with the current crop of folk artists filling the airwaves. He hasn’t been played on Triple J or won a Golden Guitar but he has a very loyal following and is one of the greatest hidden gems in Australian music.

He plays both solo and with his band The True Believers and has released a number of albums, including Three Boxes which is a must-hear for any folk music fan. His songs range from the joys of erm… spare room horticulture (Grow To Overthrow) to the heartbreaking loss of a friend (Thrown) with the odd political song thrown in for good measure.

However it’s his live shows that are truly something else. He seems to have an ability to read the crowd and tailor the gig accordingly. Oh, and he has this habit of playing on a milk crate in the middle of the crowd:

He will be playing some Christmas shows next month and I highly recommend you come along.

December 1: Grace Emily, Adelaide

December 9: Northcote Social Club, Melbourne

December 29: Lost Lakes Winery, WA

January 1: Southbound Festival, WA

January 2: Fremantle Arts Centre

Carus and The True Believers- This Time.mp3

The Decemberists Annouce New Album

For many Decemberists fans, last year’s The Hazards of Love was a bit of a disappointment. Colin Meloy and co have always been a bit theatrical but the fairy-tale concept album took to the extreme. It’s a relief then, to hear that their recently announced follow-up The King is Dead will be much more restrained, featuring guest stars such as Gillian Welch and Peter Buck for 10 Americana influenced tracks. The album will be released on the 18th of January 2011 however the first single, Down By The Water has already been released and it is definitely a return to form.

The album’s tracklist is:

01 “Don’t Carry It All”
02 “Calamity Song”
03 “Rise To Me”
04 “Rox In The Box”
05 “January Hymn”
06 “Down By The Water”
07 “All Arise!”
08 “June Hymn”
09 “This Is Why We Fight”
10 “Dear Avery”

The Decemberists- Down By The Water.mp3

Scott Spark Covers New Buffalo

Scott Spark is one of my favourite artists at the moment. Despite the glut of male singer-songwriters in this country, he manages to stand out and his debut album Fail Like you Mean It is quirky, honest and rediculously catchy.

He has finally recorded his version of New Buffalo’s I’m The Drunk and You’re the Star, which he has been playing live for the last little while. Although it isn’t drastically different from the orginal, it’s still a fanstastic listen and if you’re yet to hear any of Scott Spark’s music, I recommend you give a listen and then quickly rush out and buy his album.

Scott Spark- I’m the Drunk and You’re the Star.mp3

I’m Back

When I started year 12 I thought that I’d finish VCE  by going out, getting appropriately drunk, and quite possibly disgracing myself in one way or another. Instead, on the day of my final exam, I’m high off painkillers, have no appendix and look like I’m six months pregnant.

On the brightside, my appendix didn’t burst everwhere, I’m going to have an awesome scar and I said some hilarious and trippy things when I was on morhpine. It also means that soon I’ll have time to give this blog my full attention and post more often than once a month.

Stay tuned for some album reviews, the possible interview and maybe a gig review or twelve once my belly heals up.