New Arcade Fire Track

That strange sound you heard this morning was probably all of the hipsters (myself included) wetting themselves over the new Arcade Fire track that was released this morning from The Hunger Games soundtrack.

The track is called Abraham’s Daughter and sounds completely different to anything off The Suburbs, or Neon Bible or actually most of the things they’ve released. It’s a bit over dramatic and moody, but that’s why we love them. And since Twilight soundtracks jumped the shark with the latest movie hopefully The Hunger Games continues the trend of teen movies with decent soundtracks. Because let’s face, we need a legitimate excuse to see them.

As a bonus, here’s The Decemberist’s contribution to the soundtrack. Which I think works much better as a stand alone track and easily stands up against their recent output.

Festival News

The 2011 Raggamuffin Festival has been cancelled in Australia after five years. The reggae festival’s acts included UB40, Billy Ocean and Marvin Priest. The organisers will refund ticket and will be focusing on New Zealand’s leg of the festival instead.

More acts have been announced for Harvest, with many of them already rumoured for sometime. They are Mogwai, Tv on the Radio, Clap Your Hands, Say Yeah and Seekae. Kevin Devine has also joined the line-up after the Soundwave Revolution disaster.

The clashes can and will make you cry.

It’s Big Day Out rumour time again. We’ve already had a bunch of rumours that proved to be false (Eminem, Blink 182) as well as the usual culprits (Radiohead, David Bowie, Elvis) but now a new source has emerged.

@BigDayOutSpy has been posting clues on twitter about who will be playing the festival. So far five acts have been “announced.” Best to take these with the biggest grain of salt you can find:

The Vaccines

Josh Pyke

Boy & Bear

Florence and the Machine

The Decemberists

Epic Video Post

There seems to be heaps of quality new videos out at the moment. Here are some of them.

The Decemberists always have fantastic videos and their latest, Calamity Song is no exception. Based heavily on the novel Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace it shows the band watching a game of tennis turn into a thermonuclear disaster. While it could have turned out horribly wrong, The Decemberists have enough charm and humour to make it compelling viewing.

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From war tennis to meteors.

I dare you to watch Ball Park Music’s clip for It’s Nice To Be Alive and not smile. It’s impossible.

It’s a universally acknowledged fact that Bon Iver is amazing. It is also well-known that Iceland has some of the prettiest scenery ever.Put them together and you get the video for Holocene.

The Rescue Ships are Brian Campeau and Elana Stone. Both are accomplished musicians in their own right with multiple albums and years of experience between them but put them together and you get something wonderful.

I saw these guys a few months ago and their live show is something special. They have a winning combination of hilarious banter and engaging music.

They’ve released a video for their single Up In The Air which was recently made Rage’s Indie of the Week. Brian broke his leg filming and both band members filmed videos about filming the video which are also recommended viewing.

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The Decemberists Annouce New Album

For many Decemberists fans, last year’s The Hazards of Love was a bit of a disappointment. Colin Meloy and co have always been a bit theatrical but the fairy-tale concept album took to the extreme. It’s a relief then, to hear that their recently announced follow-up The King is Dead will be much more restrained, featuring guest stars such as Gillian Welch and Peter Buck for 10 Americana influenced tracks. The album will be released on the 18th of January 2011 however the first single, Down By The Water has already been released and it is definitely a return to form.

The album’s tracklist is:

01 “Don’t Carry It All”
02 “Calamity Song”
03 “Rise To Me”
04 “Rox In The Box”
05 “January Hymn”
06 “Down By The Water”
07 “All Arise!”
08 “June Hymn”
09 “This Is Why We Fight”
10 “Dear Avery”

The Decemberists- Down By The Water.mp3

Friday Covers 19/02/10

It’s been ages since I’ve done a covers post. One thing you will notice this year is that I’m going to be even worse with my self-imposed deadlines thanks to the wonders of VCE. So let’s just pretend that it’s a Tuesday and that I have some kind of time management skills.

I have two covers for you today. Neither of them are all that  recent but they’re both very good.

The other day I found out that they’re going to release a documentary about Stephin Merrit from the Magnetic Fields called Strange Powers. He is one of the few songwriters who can write songs that are bitter, funny, sad and happy all at the same time. The trailer looks pretty  good although I don’t know when the film will be released in Australia.

The Shins were one of the first “indie” bands that I really got into. I think it has something to do with really good pop songs, something which they have delivered on numerous occasions. Although it may not be cool anymore, I still really like them and thought that this would be a perfect opportunity to share their cover of Strange Powers, the best love song to mention  Thai prostitutes. No, I’m not joking.

The Shins- Strange Powers.mp3

It’s no secret that I love The Decemberists and the  guys over at You Ain’t No Picasso have posted a Decemberists cover archive with 56 songs and counting. It’s amazing. I thought I would post one of my favourite covers from the list, a cover of Joanna Newsom’s Bridges and Balloons. I can’t stand Joanna Newsom’s voice however I might have to give her another listen after hearing this version, which almost sounds like it could be a Decemberists original.

The Decemberists- Bridges and Balloons.mp3

Big Day Out 2010 – Flemington Racecourse 26/01/10

This year was my first Big Day Out and it will probably be my last. It’s not because of the bands or price of entry. It’s not even because of the dodgy festival toilets. It was because of the crowd. While you’re bound to come across a few idiots in a crowd of 50,000 people, it seemed that most of the crowd were there to get drunk, show off their best open-toe footwear and  confirm Australia’s racist reputation. It impossible to walk 1 metre without being greeted by an Australian flag, a southern cross tattoo or hearing “Aussie, Aussie, Aussie” being chanted by drunk bogans. It was enough to make you want to renounce your Australian citizenship and move to Japan. Luckily the music made up for the crowd.

The first sign of crowd management problems was at entry. With organisers urging the crowd to take the train to the festival, it was suprising to see that security could not cope with the huge influx of people using the railway entrance. The line was huge and in the end they didn’t check bags or have any kind of police presence. Way to stop the drug problem, guys.

After watching the end of a very scary looking Mastadon, The first band I saw were Kasabian. Five minutes before their set some Neanderthal types thought it would be fun to try to crush us to death. Needless to say I made my way to the back of “D” where some nice guys and their equally nice girlfriends stopped me from being killed by sweaty bogans. Musically Kasabian were very good and many of their tracks such as Shoot the Runner and Fire provided great sing along moments. Unfortunately Tom Meighan’s bigger-than-god stage antics did not suit the time slot and I had the urge to punch him more than once.

I caught the first few songs from Eskimo Joe and was bored to death. They’re competent but hardly exciting and they lacked the kind of stage presence that is needed at a large festival. I was expecting more from a band who have been around for so long.

Watching The Decemberists, it was easy to forget you were at a large music festival rather than a small outdoor gig. The smaller stages attracted a much nicer crowd and those that came to watch them were hanging on every note and there wasn’t a southern cross tattoo in sight. Their blend of folk-rock made a great change from the pedestrian music on the main stages. Despite how you feel about his nasally vocals, Colin Meloy was the perfect frontman. His good natured banter(his remark about Melburnians being more attractive than Sydneysiderswon him plenty of fans) and enthusiasm was well received by the crowd and he even acted at a volume controller during the sing-along 16 Military Wives. The whole band looked like they enjoyed themselves and were all entertaining to watch. Their set was, at least for me, the highlight of the festival. It was worth the price of admission alone to see the entire crowd singing along to a song about killing children. They managed to be entertaining and theatrical without the need for a big light show and could teach Muse a thing or two about connecting with the audience. It almost made up for it being their first Australian tour. Almost.

The Horrors looked out-of-place in 34 degree heat and played their way through a noisy, dirgey set made entirely from songs off their Primary Colours album. It was enjoyable but also slightly comical so see such a pale and serious band in broad daylight. It was hard to know whether to dance, laugh or stare at your shoes. It was great. My only complaint is that there weren’t any songs from Strange House.

The crowd for Dizzee Rascal was ridiculous. It was impossible to walk through the grassed area behind the ‘D’ with people packed in everywhere. Once again there was no kind of security presence. I can’t comment on his music since I spend of most of the time trying to escape the crowd but it was incredibly bass heavy and the crowd loved it.

Lily Allen is one of those artists I like but am not crazy about and I was expecting to walk away form her set as a massive fan. Instead I walked away disappointed. You could hardly hear her vocals over the high bass and she spent the whole set walking around stage, getting security to light cigarettes she didn’t smoke and generally being a bit lacklustre.  Her unclassy banter (“I’ve had gastro the last two days and have been shitting myself”) was amusing and her attack on the recent bashing of Indian students before she launched into Fuck You were met with heckles rather than cheers. She wasn’t terrible and she has some good songs but once again it came down to lack of stage presence.

I’ve never really understood the Mars Volta. It was hard to hear the vocals at times but the crowd seemed to enjoy their set and they were a good distraction while waiting for Muse.

Powderfinger are one of Australia’s most reliable live bands. Unfortunatly reliable doesn’t always mean exciting and they had the difficult task of opening up for Muse. They played a solid set however the inclusion of many new album tracks left the restless crowd bored. While I appreciate that the band have to promote their new material, playing it before arguably the biggest band in the world is not the place. These Days was a great crowd sing-along but the band toned it down making the ballad even slower. you can’t get much more Australian than singing  My Happiness on Australia Day at The Big Day Out and their mini-cover of Mumford and Son’s Little Lion Man was very well recived and the crowd enjoyed the opportunity to sing the word “fuck” at the top of their lungs.

I haven’t got all that much to say about Muse. They were spot-on musically and their light-show was brilliant but their set lacked any kind of connection with the audience. I felt like I could have just watched a music DVD in room full of people and have pretty much the same experience. Knights of Cydonia was a highlight as was the cover of Back in Black with Nic Cester from Jet, which was well recived by the crowd. It was good, but not amazing.

The Big Day Out was a fun way to spend Australia Day and many of the acts were very enjoyable. Unfortunaly most of the crowd were not there for the right reasons and there were too many organisational issues like the line to leave. Next year I’ll see the sideshows instead,

Mumford and Sons- Sigh No More

Little Lion Man by English folk band Mumford and Sons could quite possibly be one of the year’s best singles. It has a hoedown, features banjo and has a soaring chorus that uses the word “fuck” to express vulnerability rather than just for the sake of it. And when played on the radio alongside the likes of Lady GaGa, it is a breath of fresh air.

The problem with Mumford and Sons’ debut album Sigh No More is that while all the aforementioned elements are brilliant when used together in moderation, when applied to twelve tracks they become heavy and repetitive. That’s not to say that it is a bad album, because it isn’t. But whenever I listen to it all I think about is how great the album could have been rather than how good it is.

There really are some great moments on the album Aside from Little Lion Man the second track on the album The Cave is driving folk song with great banjo plucking and the verses contain some of the most poetic lyrics on the entire album. The horns on Winter Winds help lift up the catchy but repetitive chorus making it  one of the album’s better songs and the hoedowns throughout the album set them apart from many of today’s folk bands.

The album is far form perfect though. While it would be ridiculous to suggest that all folk bands should have the lyrical prowess of say, The Decemberists, but at times Mumford and Sons leave a lot to be desired in the lyrics department. The lyrics are very heartfelt and deal with love, hate and anger. But after twelve tracks it all becomes too heavy and boarders on cheesy. Another problem is that this old style of folk music often relies on good storytelling in the lyrics, which is something the band is yet to perfect.  Luckily Marcus Mumford’s gravely voice manages to keep the album afloat.

The production is very polished, which is great for mainstream appeal but not so good if you like your folk music a little bit grimey. Even the hoedowns seem a bit restrained, which is a shame because if they had been a little less controlled they would have made the album great.

Sigh No More had the potential to be a great album and shows that Mumford and Sons are very capable musicians who just need to let loose and lighten up. That said, any release that can get the general public interested in folk can’t be a bad thing.

6.5/10