Sunday, July 10, 2011

This, precisely, is what's wrong with Australian music

There are very many things to rage against in the meaningful meaninglessness of this poll, but the Number 1 album pretty much sums it up. At the risk of sounding old and angry, I'm going to suggest that this album was the very precise moment that the Australian rock-based music scene got a tad full of itself and dived straight for the middle ground.

Despite small glimpses of genuine gold since Fanning put his ovary-friendly intentions overtly on display with this insipid and weak brew of songs, it's all been pretty much downhill since then.

Bar-fkn-humbug. And Doc - the kids can have their fkn station back. It appears to be broken, anyway.

Countdown #1 | Hottest 100 Australian Albums Of All Time | triple j

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Business as usual, then?

So, to re-cap an entire afternoon's worth of productivity sapped away by Twitter:

@DocYobbo thinks we're all far too over the hill to even be discussing such things as radio polls;

@beeso thinks we've all got our heads in the sand thinking that guitar music has a future, despite overwhelming influence that a dude on a turntable standing behind some dude delivering nasally poems is, by and large, "untrammeled shite";

@Medway has been voted unopposed to the Treasurer position of the Blokes Punching Way Above Their Weight club (with myself as self-admitted president and @JohnBirmingham firmly ensconced in the Patron role);

I seem to be the only one valiantly flying the flag for honorable, left-minded, honest inner-urban hipsterism into the third decade. I even have the bicycle, dastardly disheveled beard and copies of Monocle to prove it.

And, finally, the pricks over at @triplej are a pack'a cunts for getting us once again on this pointless round-a-bout discussion.

Oh, and for the record, my short list of Top 100 Australian Albums Of All Time (the top ten I voted for in italics) were:

You Am I - Hi Fi Way
AC/DC - Back in Black
Alex Lloyd - Black the Sun
Archie Roach - Charcoal Lane
Augie March - Sunset Studies
Church, The - Priest = Aura
Church, The - Starfish
Custard - Wahooti Fandango
Cordrazine - From Here To Wherever
David McCormack - Little Murders
Dirty Three - Ocean Songs
Gareth Liddiard - Strange Tourist
george - Polyserena
Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu - Gurrumul
Gin Club, The - Deathwish
Go-Betweens, The - Spring Hill Fair
Hummingbirds, The - loveBUZZ
INXS - Kick
Jeff Lang - Half Seas Over
Midnight Oil - Diesel and Dust
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Murder Ballads
Paul Kelly & The Messengers - So Much Water, So Close To Home
Paul Kelly - Ways & Means
Pollyanna - Longplayer
Powderfinger - Double Allergic
Powderfinger - Vulture Street
Regurgitator - Tu-Plang
Sarah Blasko - As Day Follows Night
Something for Kate - Beautiful Sharks
Weddings Parties Anything - Donkey Serenade

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Vale the best sax offender around

Sax is overdue for a revival in modern music. The soul-revivalists like Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings and Black Joe Lewis are doing their darnedest, but by Jesus a saw solo like this absolutely needs to be re-introduced. Vale, Big Mr Clemons.

YouTube - Clarence Clemons "Jungleland" solo (Milwaukee 3/17/08)

Friday, June 17, 2011

My Pals, yeah.

Some shit's just magic to witness, isn't it? Luckily the prophecy wasn't true - the Tote's still alive and well (even though I've yet to be fully immersed in its sticky-floored greatness)

YouTube - Last song at the Tote: My Pal - The Drones w/ Joel from God

Friday, March 18, 2011

Man crushes can really creep on you, can’t they?

Musically I tend to fall for the enigmatic frontman, generally one who can turn a hefty phrase plus also know there way around a fretboard or two. It’s not hard to see why - music, for me, is fundamentally modern poetry performed on stage without the wanky posing (for most parts). I’m a lover of the written word, so give me a beautifully crafted story over a clumsy chord progression any day and I’m essentially yours.

But sometimes, just sometimes, one of the accompanying musicians will grab my fancy. Usually its a rhythm section maestro (I mean, who doesn’t love someone who knows there way around a clever back-beat), but every so often it’s a flashy axe-man who tickles the bones. Recently it’s been The Drones’ guitarist Dan Luscombe - a man sometimes overlooked due to the sheer weight of personality displayed by his no-holds-barred band leader Gareth Liddiard.

I’ve always wielded a huge respect for the no-nonsense vibe Luscombe was able to bring to Liddiard’s stories (and, to be fair, Liddiard’s very own solid guitar work). There’s nothing new about what he’s doing, really: an easy equation of simple, clean guitar lines played on decent instruments and done so with absolute confidence. To be able to forge a distinctive guitar sound in this day and age is no easy feat, but to do it by bringing the whole equation back to absolute basics is impressive.

Tonight, I paid for a ticket to see ex-Augie March lead singer Glenn Richards ply the boards at the Northcote Social Club, but found myself increasingly attracted to the left-side of stage and the often-silhouetted figure of Luscombe creeping in. He straddled his side of the stage well with his axe of the moment (generally a clean Strat or a Tele put through a couple of effects) and barely moved. His guitar body stayed welded to his right hip, with the neck thrust to the left and slightly forward, like a loaded weapon. The nonchalant breezy air of his playing gave way to moments of complete tension as his shoulders hunched in and the strain of the upper reaches of the fretboard worked its way right through his neck muscles. Those moments built an enormous tension, which broke satisfying as his body floats back towards the drum riser. Man, that’s intense. It had been a while since I was musically smitten, but boy this lad with his shark-fin hair-do, barrel chest barely contained by his open-collared shirt and a don’t-give-a-shit swagger really does do things. Check him out.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Musical flashbacks: aren’t they great?

Since I self-satisfyingly maxed out my old iPod and was forced to replace it with a bigger model, I’ve gone through the obsessive-like mission to relisten to every song I own. And I’m loving every second of it. You see, Apple won’t let you transfer your music from one device to the other all that easily (a relic of the days when the paradigm for developing digital music was seen through the misguided prism of controlling the very consumer’s behaviour through digital rights management... not so #winning a plan, eh?), so I was forced to see solutions outside of their sanctimonious little Genius-bar bubble. The other tech slaughter-house Google threw up a number of options to download to fit my desired purpose: moving my library as it was in my old “Ben+Satomi iPod” (so named as it was purchased under the misapprehension that we newly-married couple would graciously and ever-so-sweetly divide the musical device’s custody between us... which lasted until Christmas when I forked out to buy the Tiger her very own green nano so she’d leave mine the hell alone) onto the shiny new precious “Big One” in one piece and without naming hassles or having to download entire libraries manually to switch them across.

I settled on the lowest range program (translation: tight-arse free) which promised to do the bare bones, without the bells and whistles. And it did just that - within an hour or so, all my tunes were copied across the Big One and I was no longer looking at a maxed out capacity bar. Which was fine, except the Crazy Clark’s No Frills Homebrand Black n Gold Savings brand program did away with pesky little things like playlists and, crucially playcounts. Hmm.

The latter of those two ancillary extras did my fucking head in initially. Like any self-respecting music-nerd who grew up secretly listening to Barry Bissell’s Top 40 on the wireless on a Thursday night, or got up extra early on both a Saturday and Sunday morning to watch the Rage Top 50 countdown (thinking, in my innocent youth, that cassingle sales on the Saturday would be reflected in the next day’s charts. Yeah, I was a very curious kid, not too bright though), you’d know that I was a little obsessive with this playcount malarky. Heck, even to this day my website homepage is set to my profile and I’m seriously very excited about bearing down on the hundred thousand listen mark in the next couple of months.

The lack of playcount data was weighing heavily until I devised a new Smart Playlist called Unplayed. Genius! (No, not in that kind of Trademarked marketing mumbo-jumbo that all those skivvy-types seem to use). It was simple - I’d make it a daily ritual to trawl through 50 songs from my back-catalogue of music and see what pops up. It’s a religious ADD-type activity now, usually accompanying my breakfast and then every music-listening opportunity throughout the day until I reach the 50 mark. I’m quite disciplined about it and make sure no other songs or albums or podcasts get turned on until that 50 is reached... I’ve even been known to stay up just that little bit later to cram them all in. Usually it’s background music and my ears will prick up once in a while to nod sagely as some musical memory worms its way into my brain, or wistfully stare into the middle distance with a vague half-smile and a knowing eye-brow raise. Or just throw a random devil horn around the empty house. I’m that kinda guy.

Tonight, however, was a little different. Whilst bashing last night’s dinner dishes into some sort of wife-pleasing state, a couple of songs from Ryan Adams’ Demolition album banged out right next to each other. And I got an instant reminiscing hard-on for the moment when this album found its way into my world. It’s nothing special, there was no cataclysmic moment - it was just an aimless, relatively poor Saturday morning in Brisbane-town when a cool $20 note was burning a hole in my tatty shorts pocket, and the upstairs of the old Rockinghorse Records was faintly beckoning me from the Love Den’s enveloping beanbag. There was nothing on the New Release shelves really calling my name, and I was in a mood to punt. The unspooled tape on the cover grabbed me, and I was familiar enough with the prolific songwriter’s name to grab it from the could-a been’s shelf in a “fuck it, what the hell” moment. Got it home, sparked and up tuned into the truly alt-country vibe which seemed to mix well with the aimlessness of my life at the time. It swiftly becoming an oft-reached for tome and it was perfect as a Saturday night accompaniment - enough bubbling enthusiasm to get you fired up early, mixed with enough maudlin reflection to bring you down after yet another fruitless excursion into the mass of the Valley.

Sure, call me a big ole’ softie, but while there are some testicle grab-worthy moments of crunchy rawk within this effort, it’s the soft touches which still grab me, take this:

Or, from a Youtube-less tune, the lyrics: “Cry on demand / How’d you learn to? Cry on demand / Teach me if you want to, you know you don’t have to / I’ll just close my eyes / And think of you” Naaawwww...

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Escaping the sinking ship

I've been in Melbourne six months now, and was commenting just the other day to a very recent escapee of Brisbane how much I did not miss the tropical city. It's true - I'm absolutely head over heals in lust with this new place, which has always been my spiritual home. It's captivated my every day and I've discovered a new energy within me which seemed to flicker just slightly in the last couple of years in Brisbane.

I rarely felt at home in Brisbane, even though it - specifically the Albion Love Den - provided me with more of a stable home that I'd ever experienced in my lifetime. There was always something a little daggy about BrisVegas which never really allowed me to adopt it as an identified 'home city' (the term BrisVegas and it's ironic connotations give an insight into that quintessential 'daginess'). No matter, Brisbane was just as much a city of internal refugees early on in my time there - thanks to the catchment of the state's two major universities - and then later on as my maturing friends extended to interstate and international migrants in search of a better and cheaper lifestyle.

And so went the conversation on Friday night (before the cocktails and scotches took hold), as I enthused to Jinna about the life on offer here compared to there. I had felt no pangs of regret at moving, there were no second guesses about if it was the right choice, and there was certainly not a drop of any sort of homesickness. Until yesterday.

There's nothing like nature coming and parking its bus on your doorstep to make a community come together, and watching the shit storm in the past couple of days has me longing for the place. Sure, seeing the old haunts in danger is concerning, but seeing the spirit of the place has hit home what it was I left behind. Agreed, the place is as boring as bat-shit sometimes, and those fkn poisonous dog-days during summer are enough to make a man spend an afternoon setting up a kiddies wading pool in a baking concrete courtyard just for a few moments of sweet cool relief (only to have it get torn apart from a stray fkn fox terrier). Anyway, I guess what I'm missing is the "we're all in this together" mentality which is shining through beautifully right now. Oh, and the absolute ease in which life's rich tapestry is approached and absorbed, perfectly encapsulated by a mate's pic:

Yeah, I miss it.