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.

Best EPs of 2009

EPs are like a difficult middle child. They aren’t seen to be as important as albums and they don’t have the disposable and popular nature of singles. Instead they are largely ignored despite the fact that many of the are truly excellent. So to make up for this, I have decided to write a list of the best EPs of 2009.

5. Philadelphia Grand Jury-Going To The Casino

With four songs and none of them going over 4 minutes, the best way to describe this EP is short and sweet. Three of the tracks could have been lead singles and made their way onto their debut album Hope Is For Hopers. The only song that didn’t make to the album was the experimental and slightly dirgey Pitchshifter Blues which feels out of place. The first three tracks more than make up for it though.

Oh Mercy-In The Nude For Love

Like Philadelphia Grand Jury, Oh Mercy also released an album that made it to my end of year list. This EP was released after the album was recorded as a teaser of sorts. Aside from the brilliant title it has some great pop songs and two instrumentals. At 6 tracks it also one of the longest EPs on the list, walking the line between EP and album. If your like Oh Mercy and haven’t heard this yet, try to track down a copy.

3.Hungy Kids Of Hungary-Mega Mountain

How’s that for cover art? And the music isn’t half bad either. Hungry Kids of Hungary have some great catchy pop tunes and all of the four tracks here, including the slower number and single Old Money are impossible to get out of your head. While it is easy to hear who their influences are, it’s a great little EP.

2.Yae!Tiger- Songs From…Casualty of the Avalanche

One of the best things about blogging is coming accross great new music and I found both Yae!Tiger and the number one band¬† because they had been nice enough to send me their music. Yae!Tiger’s EP Songs From…Casualty of the Avalanche EP has some of the best packaging I have ever seen. The picture really doesn’t do it justice. Musically these guys have Los Campesinos! style pop songs with male and female vocals hidden under a layer of disortion. The EP also comes with a cute animated clip to their song Waging War At The Carnival. While this EP won’t change the world, it is extremely enjoyable.

1.Goodnight OwlGoodnight Owl

This EP highlights one of the downsides of EPs: the short length. Goodnight Owl is a beautiful EP that sounds like it was made by an accomplished artist rather than a group of musicians who were just starting out. Sounding like a mix between Josh Pyke and The Postal Service, the mix of electronic glitches and acoustic instruments creates an almost perfect EP. These guys should be huge.

Best Albums of 2009

Before I start this highly subjective list, I would just like to thank anyone who’s ever read this blog, recommended or submitted music or has  linked to Electric Skeleton over the past six or so months.

When I first started this blog my aim was to simply write about music that I thought was awesome and hopefully someone would  read and fall in love with a band or two. I never imagined that anybody would ever want to send me their music, take what I write even remotely seriously or that I would meet all kinds of awesome people on the internet. So thanks.

Anyway, back to the list-making. You know the rules: no compilations, no EPs and no Animal Collective.

10. Arctic Monkeys-Humbug

It would have been very easy for the Arctic Monkeys to cash in on the success of their debut album and make the same record for the next five years. Luckily they chose the harder option, which was to vary their sound to a degree. Enlisting the help of Queen of the Stone Age Josh Homme as a producer,  Humbug is the band’s  most mature album and a sign that they are more than just a one trick pony. It defenitly is much slower than their other releases and even features a ballad in the song Cornerstone, which is the best song on the album. Hopefully it’s a sign of things to come.

9.M.Ward- Hold Time


I have the music director at Triple R to thank for this one. I did work experience there for a week and instead of money they give you two CDs as the end and this was one of them. It is one those albums that I enjoy every time I listen to it but often forget about. I think it is because it was released with very little hype and is consistently good rather than patchy with a few exciting tracks. If you’re into folk and haven’t heard it, I highly suggest you get yourself a copy.

8.  Oh Mercy-Privileged Woes

I have only owned this album for a week or so and it is already a clear favourite with great songwriting and laid-back pop. Admittedly it can be a little samey at times, but it is still excellent.

7. The Pains of Being Pure At Heart- Self Titled

Also winning the award for the most long-winded band name is  American band The Pains of Being Pure At Heart who write great pop songs with boy-girl vocals, which are hidden under a layer of fuzz. While it is not a particularly original concept, it is a highly enjoyable one. If you don’t believe me, have a listen to their track Come Saturday which is fuzz-pop perfection.

6.Philadelphia Grand Jury-Hope Is For Hopers

It seemed like Philadelphia Grand Jury, or the Philly Jays are they like to be known, appeared out of nowhere. There is a reason for their sudden popularity: they are extremely good at writing short, fun pop songs. While some of the tracks on their debut album are a little cheesy, it’s hard not to smile along anyway. And you’ve got to love a band who run a label called Normal People Making Hits and end their album with a party song abut not wanting to party. Genius.

5. Sunset Rubdown-Dragonslayer

Dragonslayer is an album full of off-kilter epic tracks that manage to be memorable and engaging, rather than long-winded and dull. Most of the album was recorded live and doesn’t sound overproduced. The use of backing vocals from Camilla Wynne Ingr  also adds to the album and contrasts quite nicely with Krug’s unusual voice. The album’s highlight comes in the track  Idiot Heart which is the closest thing to a rock song on the entire album and features the memorable lyrics “I hope that you die…in a decent pair of shoes/you’ve got an awful lot of walking to do.”

4. The Decemberists-The Hazards of Love

Shapeshifters, forest queens, infanticide. If a lesser band had attempted such a concept album, it would be a disaster. However in the hands of The Decemberists, The Hazards of Love is a highly enjoyable twisted fairytale of an album. Mixing both folk and prog influences, the album is essentially a one hour piece of music with track names added in for convenience. While it is not everyone’s cup of tea, you must admit that is a brave move for a major label band to make when most people would rather play music on shuffle than listen to an entire album.

3. Yves Klein Blue- Ragged and Ecstatic

Ragged & Estatic is by far my favourite local release this year. Yves Klein Blue flip between pop, rockabilly, country and indie while still creating a consistent album. While most of the songs are upbeat, they can also have darker subject matter, which makes it worth listening to more than once. Highlights include Polka and Getting Wise.

2.Phoenix-Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix

I don’t think anyone thought that Phoenix would become so popular this year. Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix is an almost flawless pop album that appeals to both indie kids and mainstream pop fans. It isn’t all catchy pop songs either with the mainly instrumental track  Love Like A sunset in the middle of the album. The reason this one isn’t the number one album is because even though it’s instantly likable, it isn’t the kind of album that requires multiple listens. In five years time I think that album number one will sound less dated.

1.The Antlers-Hospice

“What! No Animal Collective!?” I hear you gasp. Well, this is my highly subjective list, not yours. And to be honest, I don’t really care about Animal Collective. What I do care about though, is depressing concept albums and Hospice is the mother of all depressing concept albums.
Hospice is the most depressing albums of 2009 and also one of the best. It’s a concept album about a man who works in a hospital and falls in love with a cancer patient, which was written by Peter Silberman during a self-imposed exile. It’s an incredibly sad listen and deals with grief, love, loss and isolation. It is not instantly likable but it is a rewarding listen with memorable lyrics and electronic fuzz that almost sounds like hospital machinery over the instruments. Peter Silberman’s vocals are wispery and intense, which makes getting all the way to Epilogue without wanting to burst into tears very difficult. While this may not sound like the kind of album anyone would want to listen to, very few bands can create such haunting and emotional music, which is why Hospice is my album of the year.

What your favourite albums of 2009? Did I leave something out? Is my taste in albums completly crap? Let me know in the comments section.

Oh Mercy

I have a bit of a confession to make:

Although I was impressed by what very little of Oh Mercy’s material I had heard,¬† the real reason why I bought Oh Mercy’s In The Nude For Love EP was because I liked the title. And I really hope I’m not the only one, firstly because it would make me think that I’m not completely crazy for buying CDs based on their titles, and secondly, because it’s one of the best local releases I’ve heard all year.

Oh Mercy make the kind of dreamy pop music that even your Grandmother would probably appreciate (although they drop the f-bomb in Seems Like a Good Idea, so unless you have a really cool granny, perhaps not). It is very easy to see why they’ve been compared to the likes of The Go-Betweens and Augie March.

The band have also released an album Privileged Woes. While I am yet to hear it (I’m buying it as a “you survived your exams and didn’t go mental” present to myself in a few weeks), the first single Get You Back is a brilliant slice of laid-back pop music that will get stuck in your head. So don’t say I didn’t warn you.

www.myspace.com/ohmercyband