You might remember I introduced to the blog, Brisbane indie rock band Yves Klein Blue. Other than busy being played in car ads and touring everywhere, they've settled down to release their first full length album this June, called 'Ragged & Ecstatic'. The track 'Getting Wise' will be the first single released off the new record. And in their 50's reminiscent nature, neon signs and surge of lights and colours; 'Getting Wise' is a nifty swagger pop shamble (yeah I think I just made that up) number with plenty of nods, grooves and beats to tune into. One thing I'm not sure about is the slight religious connotation... I'm not going to go into that, as many have with Cold War Kids. But as the title track suggests, the young band are, musically, finding their feet, shifting between rockabilly and um... soul; but really, it does work. Yves Klein Blue are inventive without having to be orchestral or use a lot quirky instruments. Instead it's nothing more than basics of guitar, bass, drums, piano, voice and a whole lot of heart and enthusiasm.
Single launch shows:
Wed 27 May – The Toff In Town, Melbourne - tickets
Every little now and then a new band emerges with sounds of something fresh and promising. Slipping into that radar is a very young band and one of Sydney's own, Papa Vs Pretty. Catching on quickly is their described 'soaring, beat-afflicted post-gaze new-wave', but anything goes, really. Their music is a vast mixture of band's influences from Talking Heads, Radiohead, Beck, Joy Division to Grizzly Bear, blending sombre sounds of haunting synths, pulsating guitar build ups and the guileless vocals of frontman Thomas Rawle. Having reformed last year with their current line up, the band have graced the airplay of Sydney's FBi radio and played numerous shows throughout the country and at some big festivals like Laneway, Peats Ridge and Parklife alongside some like-minded Dappled Cities, Temper Trap, The Devoted Few and Seabellies. Papa Vs Pretty, however exert an extreme amount of talent and energy of their own, showcased through their live performances with such flair and exuberance; making an incredible impression of a definite band to watch. They've just released their second and latest EP comprised of some of tracks I'll let you have a taste test listen to below.
Named after an Orange Juice song and the 1980 summer games, is little known Fillipino indie pop quintet, Moscow Olympics, whose amazing debut 'Cut The World ' was one of my favourite albums of 2008 that I never got around to introducing because I either was procrastinating or consumed by books, or both. At first upon listening you could easily mistake this band of being of a shoegaze, post-punk British band from twenty or so years back. But Moscow Olympics wear their influences proud with Galaxie 500, Blueboy, New Order and Sarah Records favourites, yet sound entirely their own in this current moment in time. Much like contemporaries of The Radio Dept., their airy space soundscapes and subtle jangly melodies are gapingly entracing, at the same time painfully pretty. A very fine craft work of indie pop greatness at its best and even more so special from an emerging band from this part of the world. With bands like these it makes me excited about music from all broad of the spectrum, like the discovery of a rarity. Precious.
I don't get why everyone made a big who-ha out of the whole "fuck" thing that some artists have chosen to place somewhere in their names. There's a naughty word in the name; big whoop, move on. This album was bound to get noticed, and for numerous other reasons than just the band's name. One reason being the production work done by Mogwai member John Cummings, another being it's odd name, and on top of that! The actual sound and end product Andrew Hung and Michael Pincott have managed to pull out from some mysterious place. It's unlike anything around today, or even anything in existence. It has this post-rock hypnotic feel about it that's helped favorously by it's build up's, it's climaxes and the constant repetition of drone music. Most definitely a major eye-opener for me.
Scarlett Johansson | Anywhere I Lay My Head (ATCO Records)
From reading the promos prior to the album's release this looked like it was going to be a winner in just about everyone's eyes. With all songs being Tom Wait covers, David Bowie featuring on backing vocals, Tunde Adebimpe also featuring on backing vocals, Nick Zinner performing guitar work, and David Sitek doing production work! What went wrong? Why did people just not agree with this album? Most people believed that the album was just too "obscure", "impossible" or "drowned" but in my eyes I see it as this: "obscure" yes, definitely but in a way that's intriguing and engaging, "impossible" perhaps but the challenge Scarlett set for herself was something completely something she could pull off, and as for "drowned"! That's the whole effect. It's as if Cocteau Twins and Mercury Rev were picking a bar-fight with Sonic Youth. It just works. That's all there is to it.
My Disco's second effort, 'Paradise', was something of a complete turn-around to that of their debut, 'Cancer'. It's different in the fact that the album quite literally has nothing going on at all. It's not as hectic as some might have hoped but this album reveals so much more energy then that of it's predecessor. From listening you can tell it feels more comfortable. With Steve Albini behind the decks this time around the band I think were able to accomplish more then what they had originally set out to do. This is Albini's effect; he has this with everything he touches. It's incredibly hard to pigeon-hole a band like My Disco, and that's why it's best not too. But a band that manages to produce just simple beats and simple structures, and still manage to make a song that's more infectious then that of a dance-floor filler amazes me. They should forever remain a mystery.
Bon Iver | For Emma, Forever Ago (Jagjaguar Records)
This album was so close to perfect it wasn't funny. It was simply irresistible and an absolutely astonishing debut album. From the moment 'Skinny Love' caught the attention of mainstream airwaves there was going to be success written all over the album. There's personal trouble, love, heartache, guilt and regret. It had the essential traits for an enjoyable and thought provoking listen and it was an album for all to take in, and feel in some way, a relation to the stories. 'For Emma, Forever Ago' was the only album this year to actually send chills down my spine and make my hair stand tall. It's both chilling and comforting, it makes you feel welcome but yet still haunts your ever move. It sticks with you for hours afterwards and just begs to be listened once again. Although this album was one of the most played albums on my stereo this year, it lacked only one thing; sustainability.
Brightblack Morning Light | Motion To Rejoin (Matador Records)
Brightblack Morning Light's second album, Motion To Rejoin, was one of the most simplistic and easily enjoyable manners. But in saying that, it was also the most obscure and magnetic. The album is covered with this sort of south-western psychedelic rock feel with infectious lazy instrumentation and minimal BPM. It's the perfect hangover cure! It just wakes you up, gives you a nice affirming smack to the face, and then brings you back down to it's level and fills you in. This is a band that is happily planted within their Utopian beliefs and this album - compared to their debut offering - is one that shows they have reached a stage in their music that truly reflects this. It's atmospheric, undeniable heady, and spiritually awakening (if your not already involved in that). The album works in one continuum and comes at you at a very slow and inducing pace.
Out of all of the discoveries I made this year, I was extremely happy to come across this little unknown band from America. But in saying that, it's hard to take in the fact that they really are unknown. This three piece youth-infused Ramonds loving group has taken punk music to a new level. But it's not the punk music that most kids have come to love and know today, I'm talking about Ramones style, the 70's; where punk really stood out. This album is probably the most catchiest and fun-loving 30 minutes of music you'll most likely listen too all year.
This album makes me smile. Witch Hats debut album, Cellulite Soul, was just one of the albums where from the very first note of opening track 'Before I Weigh' to closing track 'Doors Film' you could only do nothing but sit back, relax, have a chuckle, and try and believe what your hearing. This isn't because the album is terrible, just listening to this album makes me wish I had of taken up an instrument when I had the chance to. It's this grunge downpour with hugely distorted everything that would make Sonic Youth start scratching their heads. Kris Buscombe has one of the best voices in Australia; it's croaky, it's crackly, but he somehow manages to sing melodies so smoothly. It's an enjoyable album and proves that although The Scientists and other Australian rock bands of the yester-era may now be distinct, the legend still remains.
This was one of my most anticipated releases for this year. There just seemed to be a lot riding on it, and there were a lot of expectations in which a lot of people were hoping the band were going to meet. They did exactly this, but not only did this just meet expectations they also went that little bit further. There are influences all over the place, and some of them do shine through but what bands these days don't have influences that creep through in their music? It's just natural, and there are some Jesus And Mary Chain lovers out their hopefully appreciating Mercy Arms' music. This debut album most differently solidifies the group as a must see and a must heard band.
Black Mountain | In The Future (Jagjaguar Records)
This album was possibly the most perfect follow-up to any other debut around in these last handful of years. It was the return of Canada's psych and prog-rock spiritual leaders Black Mountain and just like their first, and self-titled album, it was just another huge roller-coaster of gigantic monster riffs, swirling cosmic rock and incredibly powerful ballads. The band have once again stuck proud and true to their classic rock calling and have come up with more songs of fantascism. I wouldn't call them revivalists now; they've moved way past that and can definitely be classed as being in a genre of their own. 'In The Future' is something only measured in epic proportions and can only be fully described in a ten page booklet. There's a lot of depth to this album, and a lot of emotion, that it's really hard to dumb down the effect this album has on listeners to one paragraph.
What a year it was for this group! So much love behind these guys right now it's really not funny. I did try to not let all this attention to the band get to me but for people who know me well, they will know that when people around me start loving an artist, I start drifting away from them. And unfortunately, that's what sort of happened. I did my best but when you have every second person coming up asking if you've heard 'Cassius', then it gets annoying. But, in saying all that I still really enjoyed this album when it was released. Just the fact that the band had the balls to reject Dave Sitek's mix of the album and go with their own was definitely attention-seeking. Seriously? Who in the right mind has the balls to reject that man? It's crazy. Anyway, call these guys what you want but they really know what they are doing and have one fine debut release under their belts.
A real late contender for me; only due to the fact that for some reason I put off listening to the album up until about a month ago. God knows why. I guess that perhaps there were just other albums I was looking forward to listening too more. I've learnt from my mistake now. In saying all this, I think my opinion of the release could be in order, yes? There's some real distinctive influences ranging throughout this album - moreso then their prior release - with African tribal beats taking control but also their homeland of New Zealand taking a shine with 'Tane Mahuta' sung completely in Māori. With these influences and the blend of calm, reverbed psychedelic pop making up an album filled with exotic sounds and unique instrumentation, how was this album not going to be good?
Did this guy become huge or what!? It took like a week, tops, for everyone in the blogesphere to just eat this guy up. I don't blame everyone though, I can say that I am quite happily sitting on the same boat and enjoying every second of it. Nathan Williams has quite literally pulled some kind of a miracle out of his backside. It seemed that nothing was going to able to outshine this whole eletronic/rave craze that has quite literally taken over the world and formed this new "trend" but with the help of Wavves and other acts such as No Age, Jay Retard, Women and countless others this whole lo-fi/no-fi/fuzzed out music has really started to take off. This album is fantastic. It's just a huge wake up call and was completely unexpected. It's distorted to the extreme extent that distortion can reach, it's incredibly hard to understand the lyrics, and it's the best damn fun ever.
Speaking of artists taking off from quite literally no where, Melbourne's very own all girl psychedelic rock group, Beaches, is another one to add to that list. This group of ladies, and somewhat a super group featuring Antonia Sellbach (Love Of Diagrams), Alison Bolgar (Panel Of Judges), Gill Tucker (Spider Vomit), Ali McCann and Karla Way, have pretty much taken Melbourne and the whole of Victoria over, and soon enough all the other states. The self-titled album is unlike anything around today, and is smothered with endless jams played out to perfection. The whole album has this cosmic feel to it and is hauntingly and jaw-droppingly brilliant.
There's a lot that's different with Havillah compared to that of The Drones' stripped back 2006 album, Gala Mill. Mainly, it's a little bit more upbeat which is something fans haven't heard from the group since Here Comes The Lies all those years ago. But something that hasn't changed at all, not one bit, is vocalist Gareth Liddiard who still has this deep and dark thoughts on his mind that brings out a lot more emotion within each of the group's songs. This makes the album ironic, seeing as though it's a lot more enjoyable and easier to get into, but it seems to be the darkest album they have written in their career. I love this album because it's just noise; just straight up and in your face noise. There are a few acoustic numbers for good measure though.
Bodies Of Water | A Certain Feeling (Popfrenzy Records)
This is an album that made me re-think my snobbish-ness towards music, and to go by the saying "never judge a book by it's cover". Although it wasn't the cover that put me off, it was the critics. Just about every journalist out there who was in charge of writing up a review for this album claimed them as the next Polyphonic Spree. This statement put a complete downer on the album and for some reason or another put me off listening to it. That was, until the wave of unjust reviews died off. I haven't looked back since giving this album it's much deserved and overdue listen. Yes, there are little glimpses of The Polyphonic Spree here but who cares, seriously. It's a phenomenal album, with hand-claps, sing alongs and catchy beats, but all in a high-pitched, rock opera sort of way.
If ever there was going to be a party record to define the year 2008, I would be putting all votes on El Guincho's debut effort, Alegranza!. With every listen of this album I find something new to love about it and there is always a different song that I feel some sort of a connection with and give it the nice repeat treatment. There are so many hints of what we thought were pretty much dead genres, including Tropicalia but with blends of afro-beats, instrumental samples, and a feel-good vibe around the whole album I would imagine it would be extremely difficult to not even get a foot tapping along to this. It's infectious in a very good way, and is already getting the multiple plays this Summer and will most likely continue to do so.
This album is a complete rarity. Purely for the fact that right from the very first note strumming by all members in the band for the opening song Dead City/Waste Wilderness, you just knew that this album was definitely going to be something different. It's impossible to pigeonhole this band, no one could do it. One minute their punk, another their rock, but then they throw in this tropical feel which is revealed through the drum beats and guitar work, but on top of all this there's this real experimental thing going on with little gadgets. It's mind-bottling just how good the end product sounds. It's almost as if Battles and The Ruby Suns are the parents of a child who digs only 80's guilty pleasures and flamboyant punk. If ballets were done in punk form, this album would be the soundtrack.
What a phenomenal album this is. I can safely add this to the list of albums that give me chills and make my hair stand tall. It's hauntingly beautiful chamber music at it's finest. The albums is covered in this elegance, but it still has the effect to creep you the hell out. Which turns out to be a really good thing as it helps me remember which tracks did what. What this duo does with their music is both moving and relaxing. It's Sunday morning music, it's depressed music, it's probably the only album from this year that can actually put me to sleep at night (I'm not too big on the whole listening to music whilst you sleep, but this album I can let slide). It's a stunning follow up to their debut a couple of years ago, and this album is anything to go by then the future is looking pretty good for Baltimore duo.
Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds | Dig, Lazzurus, Dig!!!
Could their be any other album released this year that was as cool as this one? Seriously, this album was really one that defined 2008 for me (Why wasn't it #1 then? See what's #1 to find out). It's obvious to see now that Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds have a made a pretty change in their music and their overall image with a lot of Grinderman project sticking with Cave as he was making this record. Which is not a bad thing at all! And that's why this album is so far up the list. Don't get me wrong, I love just about anything Nick Cave touches, and the Bad Seeds albums that have been released in the past are all amazing in their own unique way, and Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!! just shows listeners of perhaps a glimpse into the future of the direction in which the band is heading next. The album had me from opening riff. Oh! And just for the record, Midnight Man is hands down the best song of 2008; nothing topped it.
Welcome to the record that truly made up my year. With all the descriptions I have given to the other albums that made up my top 20 for this year, this album combines all those together and doubles it. This album is everything to me; it's almost as if it's prized percession. The project features lead vocalist and extroadinaire Karl E. Scullin (aka KES and ex-Bird Blobs member), and other well-known Melbourne musicians Paddy Mann (aka Grand Salvo), Oliver Mann, and Laura Jean amongst a whole host of others performing in a very communal effort. Their music is entertaining, as not only does it really tug at all emotions whilst truly exploring some indifferent and abstract structuring but the album also highlights Scullin's lyrical ability more so then his solo-work and shows off his almost elfin voice. This album will forever remain a favorite of mine.
To this day I can honestly say that I have never really given much thought about Mimes. It's not that I have a distaste for them or don't appreciate what they do; their just people who have never crossed my mind or I've spared a moment to give a though too. That is until now because I can tell you that after just witnessing Abe Vigoda's video for Skeleton I'm officially spooked. The way the group portrays these Mimes - whilst still rocking out to the tune, might I add - is eerie to say the least. There's glimpses of freaky smiles, weird hair-do's and extreme close ups of the members faces just starring blankingly. It's enough to give a small child nightmares. On top of this though, the film-clip is actually really incredibly brilliant. I'm sort of lost for words in just how to describe it but the way the camera shakes with each members bopping, the way it chops from one side of the group performing to the other and just the cross fades really keeps the interest level at a high. You have no choice but to watch, it's hard to look away. Even if the band does look their thinking about killing you. This is a stunning track from a stunning album, and if I were to recommend a "tropical-punk" album to someone whose interested I would hands down go for Skeleton. I'm also well aware that Skeleton may be the only "tropical punk" album in existence but that doesn't mean it's not crap.
Photos taken by Mandy Hall and can be viewed here along with her other work.
Opening up the night was Pistons Misfire, a ‘supergroup’ of sorts, containing members from various bands such as Kamikaze Trio, Group Seizure, Digger & the Pussycats and The Cheats. This band was loud and brash, with a clash of distorted guitar and deafening drums, as if the result if Jay Reatard collaborating with Wolf & Cub. It was punk, with psychedelic undertones but still maintaining a contemporary appeal. I admit that the Wolf & Cub comparison may appear to be somewhat lazy, as this band too had two drummers booming their way through an electric set.
Second was one of my favourite bands Witch Hats, showcasing some new material. With hectic lyrics about everything and nothing at all, matched with static, manic guitar and crashing drums there is a genuine punk brutality in this band live performance, matching that of punk predecessors such as the Birthday Party. Placed amongst the newer songs were Summer of Pain, Jock The Untold and Hellhole, the live renderings of these dirty, sharp songs coming to life even more so, possessing a real viciousness, though hearing some of the new, unknown songs was a great indicator as to what is to come from this amazing band.
Coming into this gig, I know very little of Kim Salmon. I knew of how influential his music in its various form (The Scientists, Beasts of Bourbon, The Surrealists) has been not only on Australian bands, but world-wide, but basically went into this blind, not knowing what to expect. The songs has a muddy distortion to them, with Salmons vocals traveling from barely-there whispers to deafening screeches and growls, with the music often doing the same, with moments of bass heavy riffs, to barley-there, almost silent spaces, strung together with piercing guitar. I was watching, and could see how this man and all of the musical catalogue he brings with him has influenced so many over the years, I could see how this band had influenced Witch Hats, who played just before them, though for some reason something about his performance just went straight over the top of me head. Whether it be that we’re just too many generations apart for me to be able to fully appreciate what he was doing, or maybe it was just a genuinely shrug-worthy performance, I am not sure. I feel somewhat disappointed in myself for not seeing what many people there obviously had seen in the past and continued to see this night, but something was just not happening for me.
The Lost Valentinos have finally returned after many many countless months in somewhat hiding, and what a surprising return it has been. The Bismarck is the name of the group's latest single. Their remix own under the Knife Machine moniker reminds me of New Order and how they always did their own extended remixes - which a lot of the times were actually better than the original. I guess maybe, its a personal thing but for some reason I really prefer it if there are less vocals and the track is 50 percent longer. Its good that I can still be a little excited about an "dance punk" band in late 2008 but the Lost Valentinos' new single just gets it right. Bismark is a pretty sweet glimpse into what the group could be producing next. It's been too long since the release of their last single 17 Death. Hopefully this time we wont have to wait as long for the album to arrive.
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