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

Boy & Bear @ The Forum 16/05/2012

You can always tell when a band has made it when the bogans in the crowd outnumber the hipsters, and for Boy & Bear’s sold-out show at The Forum that was definitely the case. The band were solid, the Jim Beam was flowing and the venue, as always, was lovely.

If the Stonefield theory is to be believed, Jungle Giants will be massive. With an average age of 17.5 and a track on high Triple J rotation, their jangly indie pop won over most of the crowd.  Bass player Andrew Dooris contributed to about 90% of their stage presence, while guitarist Cesira Aitken stood motionless on the other side of the stage. It was a strange sight that dampened the excited of watching a female guitarist but given the size of the venue, nerves could certainly be a factor. Mr Polite went off and was a fitting end to a solid set.

Boy & Bear walked on stage to ominous music and for the first time, a background which was one of the more interesting aspects of the show.

The thing is, Boy & Bear make pleasant music. It sounds good in supermarkets or on national youth broadcasters but when watching them  live it becomes clear how much their music all sounds the same. There’s no conviction or passion, or anything that you would hope to see from a band who play vaguely folky music.

That said, Their sound  translates well to stage and they are growing as live performers. Rabbit Song kicked things off with a decent amount of reverb on the vocals and Lordy May got a few members of the crowd excited. The middle of set slumped as they only have a limited amount of material and their new song Three Headed Woman was nothing to write home about. And Dave Hosking apologised for swearing in it. How scandalous.

Fall At Your Feet was the highlight of the set, both in terms of it being a classic song and crowd involvement. The inclusions of Neil Young’s Heart of Gold in the middle added a nice touch.

The latter part of the set was more inspiring with a string of their most popular songs. Feeding Line, and the double whammy of Mexican Mavis and Golden Jubilee was a satisfying end to a solid, but largely uninteresting set.

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.

Splendour Sideshows

Splendour in the Grass sold out in 42 minutes this year. And while most of the exciting bands (well, pretty much all of them really) were only playing the festival, some of the bands further down the poster announced sideshows in Sydney and Melbourne.

My personal picks for sideshows are The Shins (tickets went on sale today), former Fleet Fox Father John Misty and Youth Lagoon who was here only a few months ago.

All tickets are on sale at 9am on May 4.

The Afghan Whigs Splendour sideshows:
Wednesday July 25th – The Hi-Fi, Melbourne
Thursday July 26th – The Factory Theatre, Sydney

Band Of Skulls Splendour sideshows:
Thursday July 26th – The Corner Hotel, Melbourne
Friday July 27th – The Factory Theatre, Sydney

Michael Kiwanuka Splendour sideshows with Ben Howard:
Tuesday July 24th – The Factory Theatre, Sydney
Wednesday July 25th – The Corner Hotel, Melbourne

Django Django Splendour sideshows with The Cast Of Cheers:
Tuesday July 31st – The Corner Hotel, Melbourne
Wednesday August 1st – Oxford Art Factory, Sydney

Howler Splendour sideshows with Zulu Winter:
Tuesday July 24th – The Corner Hotel, Melbourne
Wednesday July 25th – Oxford Art Factory, Sydney

Friends Splendour sideshows:
Wednesday July 25th – Northcote Social Club, Melbourne
Thursday July 26th – The Standard, Sydney

Electric Guest SPlendour sideshows:
Tuesday July 31st – Oxford Art Factory, Sydney
Wednesday August 1st – Northcote Social Club, Melbourne

Father John Misty Splendour sideshows:
Friday July 27th – Oxford Art Factory, Sydney
Saturday July 28th – The Corner Hotel, Melbourne

Youth Lagoon Splendour sideshows:
Saturday July 28th – The Factory Theatre, Sydney
Sunday July 29th – The Corner Hotel, Melbourne

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

Zulu Winter Q&A

Image

Despite a very short career, UK band Zulu Winter have already started to make a name for themselves with  the music press salivating over their debut single We Should be Swimming , a slot at SXSW and an Australian tour scheduled for April. Their debut album Language is due out in May and there are some seriously high expectations going on.

I was lucky enough to score to a Q&A with Dom Milliard before they visit our shores. I suggest you keep your eyes on these guys, they’re going to be big.

How would you describe your sound?

Luckily that’s not our job. Our advice would be have a listen and make your own mind up.
What has been the highlight of your musical career so far?
It has to be playing a show in Japan. None of us have ever been there before, and despite only being there for a ridiculously short time, its a place we would love to go back to. I don’t normally get too nervous before shows, but having come such a long way I had more than the odd butterfly in my stomach… god knows how I’ll be when we play Australia!
With so much hype surrounding you guys so early in your career, do you feel like there is a lot of pressure for your debut to match people’s expectations?
I can’t wait till our debut comes out, since I find it very strange that people come to such conclusions after only hearing a handful of songs.
We Should Be Swimming is ridiculously catchy. Can we expect a similar sound from the rest of your album?
Thank you! I think and hope that there is a relatively wide selection of sounds on the album. We’ve got a few others in a similar vein to ‘We Should Be Swimming’, but also some songs which are darker more delicate and atmospheric.
 
What can Australian fans expect from you live shows coming up in April?
Don’t think we’ve got any gimmicks planed, but we love playing live and hopefully that comes across. Actually we have been knocking about a couple of covers at the moment so you might hear a familiar tune with a Zulu Winter slant on it!
 
Are there any Australian bands making waves over in the UK at the moment?
I’m actually quite interested in ‘Primitive Motion’ who are from Brisbane and have an excellent blog (http://kindlingrecords.blogspot.com/) Filled with excellent artwork and of course music as well.
An album that’s been making waves with us recently is Peace For Out Times, by Warm Dust which came out in 1971, mondo tunes with Timothy Leary reading over the top! Of course we all love Tame Impala and Nick Cave as well.
What’s next for you guys?
We’re off to America next week to SXSW, which we’re all looking forward to, again I’ve never been to America and none of us have been to Texas, so it should be pretty exciting. Then we’re heading your way which once more is a place we’ve never been before, so you’ll have to show us round. I recently got a camera so I’ll be taking lots of snaps!
What are you currently listening to? Any bands you think we should keep an ear out for?
Literally in the last week or so I’ve dived head first into the whole ‘Berlin Scene’ people like Moderat, Modeselektor and Four Tet, although I think he’s based in London. It’s really opened some ideas on song structure and atmospheres.
Bands you should look out for: Outfit whose single Two Islands is one of the greatest songs I’ve heard in recent times and gets better with each listen (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=11wT1sdTRhU)  and a friend’s band called Brew Ha Ha, I wouldn’t normally recommend a friend’s band, but they are fantastic, they currently don’t have anything out there, but if you’re smart you’ll remember their name.
 

MELBOURNE
MON 16 APR – NORTHCOTE SOCIAL CLUB
Tickets from http://www.northcotesocialclub.com

SYDNEY
WED 18 APR – OXFORD ART FACTORY
Tickets from http://www.moshtix.com.au