First Aid Kit sideshows

Ridiculously talented Swedish sisters, First Aid Kit will be returning to Australia in March.

The band will be down here for Golden Plains but will also play shows in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.

If their history is anything to go by, this might be the last time we get to see them in such intimate venues. With a Fleet Foxes cover that has over 2,000,000 views on youtube (take that Bieber), an impressive debut album and the ability to move Patti Smith to tears, these girls have massive things ahead of them.

They will also be releasing their second album The Lion’s Roar on the 27th of January.

Their Australian dates are:

Wednesday 14th March – Northcote Social Club, Melbourne
Thursday 15th March – The Standard, Sydney
Friday 16th March – The Zoo, Brisbane








New Aleks and the Ramps Video

It’s hard to talk about Aleks and the Ramps without using the Q word. Not because they wear fun socks, or exclusively play xylophone, but because you can never quite tell what they’re going to throw at you next.

The band have a new album due out  on the 14 of February and the first single Middle Aged Unicorn on Beach With Sunset outshines it’s terrible name by being ten types of brilliant. The lyrics are witty and the delivery could almost match Stephin Merrit on the sarcastic baritone front. And it’s catchier than herpes.

The video for the song features setting soft toys on fire, trampolines and smoke machines and was made by Aleks himself. Awesome? You bet it is.


Short Stack Q&A

One of my favourite things about this blog is being able to interview bands that range from small locals who deserve more recognition to brilliant songwriters who are regarded by many as national treasures. So when the opportunity do to a Q&A with Short Stack’s Shaun Divney come about, naturally I said yes. Firstly I thought it would be interesting to get their perspective on things, and secondly I was curious about their decision to allow interviews with independent music bloggers, because let’s face it, being a little bit snarky is our thing. Nevertheless, they chose not to answer some of my questions, but here are the ones that they did.

The Story of Short Stack is a documentary about the band that will be shown in cinemas for one night only on October 27.  There will be a live Q&A and acoustic set at Event Cinemas in Sydney, which will be broadcast be satellite to selected cinemas in Melbourne, Perth and Brisbane. Each ticket comes with a free copy of the DVD.

How did the Story of Short Stack Movie come about?

We have always been broadcasting our journey via our Youtube channel since day one, but never actually gone into this much depth before. The DVD is the story we want people to know about us.

 Are you nervous about having the event screened live to so many places are will you just treat it like any other gig?

It’s not at all like a gig, and yeah I do feel a bit nervous as we are out of our comfort zone, but at the same time we love a challenge and this is a whole new and different experience.

What has been the highlight of your career so far?

The fact we are on our third album now and I’m only 22 is an achievement for me.

Most bands have their first album out in their late 20s and few rarely get a second or third.

I think the fact our music has reached so many people is a highlight for me.

 Where can you see the band in five years time?

We will keep playing music as long as we are enjoying it.

 Do you have any crazy stories?

Yes, once I killed a hooker.

What bands are you currently listening to?

I got the new Patrick Stump CD, it’s awesome.

Will Sheff @ The Toff 16/10/11

Okkervil River has always been about Will Sheff. Even on their latest release I Am Very Far, the biggest sound record of their career, the music seems to exist only to frame Sheff’s detailed and often dark lyrics. His solo show at The Toff on Saturday gave fans the chance to hear stripped back versions of the band’s songs and the result was absolutely incredible.

A few people turned up early to watch Jimmy Stewart. Although he may not be household name he has toured relentlessly (he once played 51 gigs in two months). Beginning with a cover of Charlie Chaplin’s Smile, his gravelly voice and songs that boarder the country end of the spectrum were a hit with the growing crowd, who remained silent for the entire set, a rare occurrence for a support band. Despite not being familiar with his work before the gig, I left it as a fan.

Mike Noga had the difficult task of opening for Sheff and like the last time I saw him the set came with its own unique charm in the form of a nasty hangover. He greeted the crowd by asking if anyone else was disappointed with the new Gillian Welsh album before launching into a set of dark indie folk. After three nights of playing drums for The Drones at The Corner he was visibly wrecked at spent most of the time in-between tracks rambling about various topics and telling the crowd how nervous he was because of their silence.

The crowd were silent for a reason though, with everyone paying him the attention of a headline act. The wager to guess all four acts referenced in  Piss On a Butterfly went down well, even though nobody could guess correctly. One of the biggest highlights of the set was Irish murder ballad Eileen, its dark subject matter unexpected after hearing Noga talk about his cats for the last five minutes. Not only did Mike Noga make the wait for Will Sheff bearable, he made it thoroughly enjoyable.

Launching straight into Rider , Will Sheff left little time for formalities. Using little more than an acoustic guitar and harmonica, the acoustic setting allowed for the songs’ strength to really shine through. The clever Plus Ones was a highlight of the set, as was B-side I Guess We Lost which I prefer to some of the tracks that eventually made it onto I Am Very Far.

The best part of acoustic gigs like this one is hearing fan favourites that are rarely played during fell-band sets. Happy Hearts was a surprise inclusion and sounded great despite the lack of Daniel Johnson. Nobody expected to hear The President’s Dead or Red live, the latter causing audible gasps among the audience.

Sheff switched to keyboard for a few songs which gave a different take on some of the songs. For Real lost none of its intensity without the full band, while his performance of Your Past Life Was A Blast improved on the studio version by removing all of the noise the plagues the album it comes from.

The biggest highlight of the set for me was A Stone. I discovered Black Sheep Boy as an angsty 16 year old that song in particular sound tracked many of my teenage years. Live it was incredible. Will Sheff has always sung like he is on the verge of a mental breakdown and thanks to the excellent sound of The Toff and the appriciative crowd, it was perfect.

That said, there were a few missteps. Using an iPhone to create a backing for The Valley was out of place, and seemed too much of a contrast to the rest of the set. Anyone else but Sheff would not have been able to pull it off. It was the final song, Our Life Is Not A Move Or Maybe that provided the set’s low point. Having heard some amazing acoustic version floating around the internet, I was particularly excited about hearing it. Instead Will Sheff played it on an electric guitar which didn’t quite mix with the rest of the set. That said, Will Sheff’s average is more than some musicians will achieve in a lifetime.

Overall it was an amazing gig that I am sure I’ll remember for years to come. The combination of the respectful crowd, intimacy of The Toff and the talents of all of the musicians involved made it something truly special.

Beirut Sideshows

Beirut are coming to Australia for the Falls Festivals and today they announced sideshows for Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne.

The last time they toured here was way back in 2008, and since then they’re released their brilliant new album The Rip Tide and become superstars in Brazil.

The dates are:

Thursday 5th January – Sydney Opera House, Sydney
Tuesday 10th January – The Forum Theatre, Melbourne
Thursday 12th January – The Hi Fi, Brisbane

Tickets on sale Tuesday 11th October or pre-sale tomorrow through the Handsome Tours mailing list.

*Beirut are band in the same sense Bright Eyes are a band. So don’t get crabby about my use of plurals.