Middle East tour

It’s felt like an age since The Middle East started talking about their debut album, but finally a relese date of 8 April has been set. I  Want That You Are Always Happy will be their first release since 2008 and tracks like Jesus Came To My Birthday Party are already all over Triple J.

They’ve also annouced an Australian tour, which includes a Melbourne show on my birthday so you all should come.

Friday 3rd June – Tanks Arts Centre, Cairns
Saturday 4th June – Riverway Arts Centre, Townsville
Wednesday 8th June – Fly by Night Club, Fremantle
Friday 10th June – The Governor Hindmarsh, Adelaide
Saturday 11th June – The Corner Hotel, Melbourne
Monday 13th June – Karova Lounge, Ballarat
Wednesday 15th June – Old Museum, Brisbane
Thursday 16th June – Joe’s Waterhole, Sunshine Coast
Friday 17th June – The Metro, Sydney
Sunday 19th June – Cambridge Hotel, Newcastle

Tickets on sale Friday 8th April


John Steel Singers, Jonathan Boulet @ The Corner 30/03/11

Double headline tours are all the rage at moment, but it doesn’t get any better than the Here’s Johnny Tour which saw John Steel Singers and Jonathan Boulet play to a sold out Corner on Sunday.

It’s always great to see a band having fun on stage and it was clear Parking Lot Experiments were having a ball. Mixing 8-bit electronics, rock and a dash of pop, the band quickly charmed the growing crowd with their fun music and synchronised dancing. While most of the songs were instrumental, they never dragged on or became boring. That said, their stage presence between songs was extremely awkward and there were a few technical difficulties (a particularly memorable one included a Sophie- Ellis Bexter song of all things). They are definitely a band to keep your eye on and are one of the most exciting new bands to come out of Melbourne.

Love Connection was not the best choice to open for the John Steel Singers. Not that their set was band, on the contrary they were fantastic. But their atmospheric, layered pop didn’t sit well with the restless crowd. Some notable moments were the single I Know You’re Real as well as some shoe percussion courtesy of some Dunlop volleys. They have some more shows coming up and they would be much more enjoyable as headliners.

John Steel Singers made us wait an extra twenty minutes, but it was worth it. They are fast becoming one of Australia’s most talked about bands, especially after the release of their debut album Tangalooma. While the record is great, the songs really come to life in a live setting. The band’s brass section makes them stand out from other bands in the genre and adds another dimension to their music that is particularly noticeable live. Old favourite Strawberry Wine got the crowd’s attention early with enough woo-hoos to satisfy the harshest pop fan.  However it was Overpass that got the best response, prompting a mass sing-along. Finishing with Rainbow Kraut, which highlighted the band’s knack for harmonies, the only disappointment was that the set only went for 40 minutes.

Jonathan Boulet must be one of the busiest men in Australian music. Not only does he play drums in Parades, he has a solo album due out later this year. Joined by a four piece band they launched into an energetic version of 3 2 1 Ready or Not causing mass dancing from the crowd. This pace continues for the rest of the gig with very few breaks between songs. One thing that must be mentioned about Jonathan Boulet is his attention to percussion. With both a drummer and a percussionist, the band created strong tribal beats that made it impossible to stand still. Ones Who Fly Twos Who Die was a great example of this while A Community Service Announcement made everyone forget about work the next morning. A new song was previewed and stood up well against the old favourites. While Boulet didn’t play any of his slower numbers, there were certainly no complaints and closer You’re A Animal showed why he is one of the best regarded indie musicians in the country.

While there were audible groans when the house music came back on, for a few hours we were able see some of the best Australian music going around and  forget about work the next day.

Fleet Foxes auction off new album and unveil new track

After a natural disaster strikes, we often see musicians helping out. Whether it’s the Foo Fighters playing a show in Christchurch, Powderfinger releasing a B-side or Bono putting his face on every charity campaign he can find.

Fleet Foxes are the latest band to help charity. The band have placed a test vinyl pressing of their second album Helplessness Blues on ebay, with all money going to the Japan earthquake and tsunami relief fund.

The album isn’t released until May 3 and to say it’s highly anticipated would be an understatement. There are just over 5 days left of bidding, and the total is  already $2,125.

Speaking of Fleet Foxes, a new song from Helplessness Blues has been released on British radio. Titled Battery Kinzie, it is everything you would expect from a Fleet Foxes song. Simply stunning.


Missing Link for sale

We’re all guilty of walking into a record store, emptying out wallets and then wishing that we could buy the whole shop. This will soon be possible, as it was announced yesterday that iconic Melbourne record store Missing Link will be going on the market.

The current owner Nigel Rennard, who has operated the store for 30 years is looking to hand the store over to someone with excellent musical knowledge and experience.

It’s been a big year for the store, which has merged with Collectors Corner, launched a digital store and will also be moving premises in April because the current building will be demolished.

It does bring up the question of how viable records stores are in 2011, when even Missing Link may disappear if it doesn’t find a new owner. Even vinyl buyers are turning to the internet to buy music, as it offers more convenience, a better price and is delivered to your door. On the other hand, there’s nothing like walking into a record store and being able to spend hours physically browsing, talking to super knowledgable staff and walking into a shop without being bombarded with the sounds of Justin Beiber. I really worry sometimes that one day the only ‘record stores’ left will be brightly lit chain stores with the smallest selection in the world.

Hopefully someone will buy Missing Link, and considering how strong Melbourne’s music community is, it’s highly likely.

Oh Mercy @ Triple R 09/03/11

Before they embark on a national tour launching their second album, The Great Barrier Grief, Oh Mercy played a short set at the Triple R studios.

Much has been said about the departure of guitarist and founding member Thomas Savage (who now fronts Kins), and his absence was certainly felt tonight. It’s not that the band’s performance was bad, but it felt like watching four independent musicians playing the same song. That said new guitarist Simon Okey adds a very different sound to the band that after a bit of time, could work really well.

New songs Mercy Valley and On The Run showed that Alexander Gow hasn’t lost his songwriting edge and they were more energetic live than on the album. Predictably, the incredibly catchy single Keith Street went down well with the crowd and was one of the highlights of the set. However it was the final track on the new album, Doldrums that stole the show. Bassist Eliza Lam took over vocal duties and it’s surprising that she didn’t sing on the album version, as her vocals were much better suited to the song.

The older tracks got a great crowd reaction with the band playing Can’t Fight It, Broken Ears and Get You Back. It was only during the off-air version of Lay Everything On Me that band seemed to relax more. The song itself was much rockier than the previous live versions I’ve seen, but it was nice to see the band change things up a bit.

Broadcasts are very different to seeing a band in a venue, and Oh Mercy put on a good set, considering. The lack of cohesiveness was disappointing and with all of the new promo photos showing only Alex, it felt like seeing a solo artist backed by other musicians. However in a different venue, when they aren’t being recorded, this might not be a problem.

Guineafowl Interview

Most musical projects that begin in the bedroom stay there, however for Sydney-based Gineafowl, it has led to radio play, a deal with Dew Process and the recently released Hello Anxiety EP which has seen good reviews from anyone that’s heard it. The band are currently on their first headline tour and I was lucky enough to get an interview with Sam Yeldham, the mastermind behind the entire project.

Electric Skeleton: How did Guineafowl start?

It started out as just me recording some demos in my living room, using my laptop as the only real bit of recording equipment. Some friends of mine heard the demos and urged me to put them online. Those demos got blogged about a bit and show offers started coming in. I realized that I couldn’t really play these songs by myself and so along with the help of those friends who urged me initially, we started a band.

ES: How would you describe your sound?

Indie pop. But to be honest I don’t think I am satisfied with one particular sound yet. Ask me in five years.

ES: How does playing in a group compare to playing solo shows?

It’s much better playing in a band than on your own. When you make a mistake on your own, everyone can hear it, your reaction is much more noticeable and pronounced, this is because you just have yourself to rely on. I realize this sounds like, it’s nice to have others to cover up your mistakes, but really it’s nice to rely on other people, trust them and know that you are not alone.

ES: How did the name ‘Guineafowl’ come about?

It was a nickname given to me in primary school. A teacher started calling me Guineapig because of the massive fringe I used to sport when I was a kid. Later that same teacher evolved it for no apparent reason to Guineafowl. When choosing a pseudonym, I just wanted something that meant something to me.

ES: You’re about to embark on your first headline tour. Can you tell us what to expect from your live shows?

Our live shows are pretty rambunctious. There are six of us, so we tend to crowd a stage and make a fair amount of noise. We are very excited about our first headlining tour as in reality we have only done two headlining shows before these ones!

ES: Do you have a favourite track from the Hello Anxiety EP?

People say naming your favorite song or work is like choosing a favorite child. I disagree, I think it would be much easier to pick a favorite child.

ES: You’re a relatively new band and you’ve already signed to Dew Process, been played on Triple J and released a very well received EP. Did you expect all of this to happen so early in your career?

Not at all, but we have a long way to go!

ES: Are there any local bands you think people should know about?

The bands that are supporting us on our E.P tour are amazing! We Say Bamboulee from Sydney and Kins from Melbourne especially are my personal favorites. But Readable Graffiti from Canberra and Goodnight Owl, also from Melbourne are Wicked.