[Review] The Antlers- Undersea

It’s been two years since The Antlers released Hospice, a harrowing concept about cancer that was all mechanical whirrs and haunting falsetto. Since then then they’re expanded their sound to include a remix album (Together) and Burst Apart which was a much easier listen than its predecessor.

Undersea, a four track EP sees them evolve even further and like Hospice’s hospital machinery, the underwater theme is strong with haunting synths and enough reverb to make it sound like the entire thing was recorded in a submarine.

Undersea is their most sonically interesting release to date. All four of the songs provide something different and there isn’t a bad track among them.

Drift Dive is nothing short of gorgeous with subtle horns and echoey synths.

Endless Ladder comes in at over eight minutes and while the lyrics don’t offer the emotional punch of previous records the repetitive backing vocals and delicate keys make it perfect late night driving music. Crest is the shortest track and adheres to the theme the least. Not that that’s a complaint as it’s as good as anything on Burst Apart.  

If you’re attracted to the emotional intensity of The Antlers, you may be left disappointed. But for everyone else this is a quality EP that is hopefully a sign of things to come.

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Why You Should go to the Maths and Magic Showcase

1.It’s on tonight on the Grace Darling. A band with terrible banter once informed me that the Grace Darling was named after a lady who saved 13 men from a sinking ship in the 1800s. So that’s pretty cool.

2.How often do you get to see a showcase, a single launch and a homecoming gig all in the same night? Probably not often enough.

3. The bands are all awesome. All of them.

4. Owls of the Swamp has just returned from Europe. It’s his first show back in Melbourne which means new songs and interesting banter. Not that his banter is ever boring. He brings the dad jokes.

5. Elephant Eyes are fantastic live and just keep getting better and better. It’s their single launch and it’s an awesome song.

6. Siobhan is scarily young and talented. You should see her now to say otu saw her first to impress your super indie friends in a year or so.

7. It’s only $10 and for the cost of a pizza, you really can’t go wrong.

 

[Cover up] Call me Maybe

Call Me Maybe is a great pop song. It has midi strings, a ridiculously  catchy chorus and it’s even possible to look past the average verses. but if you’re one of those people who are ashamed of liking pop music, here are some Call Me Maybe cover that it’s okay to like.

 

Firstly, here’s the version fun. did live on Dutch radio. It’s not a huge departure from the original, but as a big fan of The Format (their old band, do yourself a favour, they’re great) it’s been in high rotation. Also love that they used the midi strings, which is one of the best things about the original.

If you like your pop songs a little darker, Ben Howard did a a great folk version on Live Lounge. He managed to turn the cheesy pop song into something that extends beyond novelty value and it completely fits his style.

Music News Round-Up 28/05/2012

In recent months we’ve had The Vengaboys, Hanson, Aqua and S Club 3 tours Australia. However if you haven’t had enough of a nineties nostalgia fix, Everclear will be touring Australia in October.

The band haven’t been to Australia in fourteen years and have a new album due out later this year, which if the current trend of 90s bands continues, will be a little bit rubbish.

Wednesday 10th October – Cooly Hotel, Coolangatta
Thursday 11th October – HiFi, Brisbane
Friday 12th October – HiFi, Sydney
Saturday 13th October – HiFi, Melbourne
Sunday 14th October – Capitol, Perth

The National have recorded a song for the Game of Thrones soundtrack. I’ve never seen the show so have no idea how it relates to the storyline etc but the song itself is pretty menacing.

Rufus Wainwright will also be coming to Australia in September following the release of his latest album Out of the Game. 

Saturday 8th September – Canberra Theatre, Canberra
Sunday 9th September – Opera House – Concert Hall, Sydney
Wednesday 12th September – QPAC Concert Hall, Brisbane
Saturday 15th September – Hamer Hall, Arts Centre Melbourne
Monday 17th September – Her Majesty’s Theatre, Adelaide
Wednesday 19th September – Riverside Theatre, Perth

The Mountain Goats @ The Corner Hotel 10/05/2011

Photo: Ben Christensen

With songs about dysfunctional relationships, child abuse and a decent sprinkling of biblical references, it would be easy to assume Mountain Goats shows would be a sombre affair. Instead Thursday night’s show at The Corner felt like a massive party dedicated to shouting lyrics back at the stage, great banter and swooning during each song. And I loved every minute of it.

Catherine Traicos and the Starry Night kicked things off, but failed to grab the restless crowd’s attention. Her mellow folk songs were nice but given the anticipation for the headliner’s set, they acted as background music. Despite her efforts to entertain the crowd with her between song banter, it was hard not to think that she would be better in a headlining show.

Opening with In Memory of Satan, the first of many from the upcoming Transcendental Youth album, the Mountain Goats completely captivated the sold-out crowd.

Photo: Ben Christensen

The setlist drew from a number of the band’s 17 albums, with a heavy emphasis on fan favourites The Sunset Tree and Tallahassee.

See America Right saw the former acoustic lo-fi band in full-blown rock mode and Birth of Serpents

A brief solo part of the set was extended at Darnielle’s insistence as the crowd sang along to Jenny, The Colour in You Cheeks and You or Your Memory.

It’s clear that The Mountain Goats have the ability to move people. Between the girl on my left gasping at the start of each song, the tall guy up the front who knew every single lyric, and the countless song requests, to the uninitiated it probably looked like a scene out of Jesus Camp

The band also seemed to be enjoying themselves and by the end of the night it was hard to tell if the audience or John Darnielle was having more fun.

The new tracks Transcendental Youth and The Diaz Bothers were both catchy and incredibly well received, with the former being a piano based ballad that caused maximum swooning up the front.

The final part of the set went well into singalong territory. Love Love Love got a great reaction and This Year went off completely.

The band’s no planned encore policy lead to a conference about how to play Never Quite Free and the most entertaining  tuning I have ever seen (Nobody would probably object if the band chose to release Guitar Explorations part 2).

The band left us with No Children and as we hurled insults at each other it was clear that there was no place anyone in the room would rather be.


Photos are by Ben Christensen. He’s a camera master and has a gig photography blog: bensgigs.tumblr.com

The Magnetic Fields- Love at the Bottom of the Sea

In 1999 The Magnetic Fields released 69 Love Songs, a triple album that did just what it said on the packet. What was remarkable about this album, aside from its scope, was the witty songwriting, genre hopping and clever use of synths. Over 10 years after its release it is still considered a classic and has the magical ability to make indie fans froth at the mouth.

In the time since 69 Love Songs and Love at the Bottom of the Sea the Magnetic Fields set themselves new sonic challenges. All of the titles on began with that letter and Distortion and Realism saw the band explore lo-fi scuzz and acoustic instruments respectively. While they were all interesting listens, even just for what they said about pop music, they we more miss than hit.

Love at the Bottom of the Sea was billed as a return to form. More synths, a return to Merge records and for the first time in over a decade, no concept tying the songs together. Unfortunately the result is less than triumphant.

For a thirty minute album, it sure feels long. The synths may be back, but they’re applied so liberally that the result is a muddy, confusing mess that ruins perfectly good melodies. It’s hard to resist the urge to rip out your headphones in frustration.

There are signs of what this album could have been. Andrew In Drag is three minutes of pure pop perfection, with lyrics detailing unrequited love for a drag queen who did it as a joke. With cleaner production and a singalong chorus it could easily qualify for love song number 70.

Your Girlfriend’s Face is delightfully vengeful and is reminiscent of Carlifornia Girls from 2008’s distortion. Quick is the most sincere sounding song on the album and features a line about the mating calls of sarcastic sharks, which is everything you could ever want from a Magnetic Fields track.

But on the other hand, you have tracks like I’d go Anywhere With Hugh which tires the moment you get the joke (and chances are you just did) and All She Cares About Is Marachi, a ponderous ode to terrible rhyming. Infatuation (With Your Gyration) sounds like a Depeche Mode parody songs while Machine in Your Hand is about a smartphone. You read that right.

While Magnetic Fields albums are always a mix of throwaway joke tracks and emotional songs that are worthy of more listens, previous albums have had a balance of the two. I wish I could say the same for Love at the Bottom of the Sea. If you’re a fan, the few decent songs are worth a listen or five. But in reality, it’s probably best to put 69 Love Songs on instead.

Seth Lakeman Interview

Long before Mumford and Sons were winning the Hottest 100 and Laura Marling was being a teenage prodigy, Seth Lakeman was being dragged to his parents’ folk club every Sunday. Since then he has been nominated for a Mercury Prize, sold thousands of albums and played some of the biggest festivals in the UK. Despite this, he recorded his latest album Tales From the Barrel House in a mine using tools and chains as percussion.

“I wanted to play all the instruments on the album because there are all these stories of people who worked with their hands, and I wanted to do it with my own hands” says Lakeman, “The album has defiantly got an edge to it that is cohesive and it continues throughout the whole record. But there’s no doubt you can add other stuff to it a background singer and some conventional percussion but I think it’s left at a place where it represents the songs really well.”

However despite his enthusiasm for the record, his first since leaving EMI, he was hesitant to release it commercially. Instead he made it available as a limited edition release from his website.

“We sold 10,000 within a month and a half and then we released it here again commercially and digitally. Thankfully it’s spreading out to other areas. I’m really happy the happened”

It isn’t just his recorded output that’s been making waves. Having played almost every major UK festival, and an endless list of venues, we’ll finally have a chance to witness his live show this month as he tours Australia for first time. But he’s quick to warn me that it won’t a formal, sit-down affair.

“Over here we like to play stand up shows and people want to dance and drink and enjoy it.” He laughs, “It’s really driving and all the stories are there from the couple of records that we’ve got, but also we try and give people a really good time.”

The venues on this tour are a far cry from the large ones Lakeman and his band play in the UK, with many half the size. But rather than seeing this as a downside, Lakeman is excited about how it will sound.

“Thankfully because we play acoustic instruments they translate better on a smaller stage or pub than a bigger venue. We don’t like playing in this country to 900 people because with the instruments we’ve got we can only get so far with them. We’ll be ripping them apart when we play and shredding them but there’s no doubt it works really well in a smaller, intimate environment. Much better, I think.”

 

Local troubadour Carus Thompson will joining Lakeman along for the ride after spending a lot time touring around Europe. It seems the two of them have quite a history.

Me and Carus have known each other for about 10 years. He comes over here a lot performing and he’s come along as support about three or four times. So it’s about time,” Lakeman laughs.

While his Mercury Prize nomination marked a turning point in the mainstream success of folk, he doesn’t feel threatened by other artists stealing the limelight. In fact, he believes it is a good thing.

“In the UK folk music has always been pretty steady of a genre and the way it’s broken out in this country and has spread to other territories is definitely a trend thing I think.” He pauses before adding “. But it’s exciting for folk music because you can ride the coattails of that.”

Saturday 7 April  Harvester Moon
2330 Portarlington Rd, Bellarine VIC

Sunday 8 April – Bennetts Lane,
25 Bennetts Lane, Melbourne VIC

Monday 9 April – Bennetts Lane,
25 Bennetts Lane, Melbourne VIC

Tuesday 10 April – The Vanguard
42 King St, Newtown, Sydney NSW

Thursday 12 April – Clancy’s Fish Pub

51 Cantonment st, Fremantle WA

Friday 13 April – The Hyde Park Hotel
331 Bulwer St, North Perth WA

Saturday 14 April – Fairbridge Festival
Fairbridge WA

Sunday 15 April – Fairbridge Festival
Fairbridge WA