Sunday, 26 May 2013

Sunday Sessions: The Mavis's

There are many bands that evoke certain memories of a certain time of my life gone by. Those bands would be tied to their era, corresponding with my stage of development during that period.

Today's band to be honoured with a Sunday session I discovered during their peak. They, like many other great local and overseas bands of the time, were the soundtrack to a very confusing and unique period of my life: early adulthood. Their music reminds me of tertiary study, moving out of home, first steps into the metropolitan Sydney rental market, first jobs with multinational IT companies, buying new cars off the showroom floor and securing finance on credit, and much, much more.

Today we give a rousing introduction to The Mavis's.

I didn't like them at first, however (rural Victoria) Ballarat's finest (and most probably, only) pop stars wormed their way into my consciousness, and they have never left. At first I couldn't work out just what the hell I was seeing and listening to, but as the music becomes almost permanent earworms, I just had to give in to its charm. Listening back to their music now elicits powerful emotions of happiness, joy, sadness and bittersweet melancholy, all at once. It is amazingly evocative music by a group of unlikely misfits from disparate musical and cultural influences, but somehow they made it all work.

If one was to try and identify their influences (and even that would only uncover a very haphazard selection), you could pinpoint Fleetwood Mac, Husker Du, The Beach Boys, The Velvet Underground, the B52s - an unusual texture from an unusual group. They had heavy guitars, pounding drums, sweet vocal harmonies and lusciously rich melodies all colliding together into a kaleidoscopic whole, performed by a be-dreadlocked guitarist, an icy, indie-cool bass player, a female drummer who alternated between shades of delicacy and full throttle belting, an openly gay male lead singer and his moon-pixie sister, also on vocals.

They were of their time and simultaneously from somewhere else. They were at once contradictory and yet the perfect combination of divergent ideas. They didn't look like any of their other peers at the time, but then in the mid-1990s, Aussie bands didn't look like each other. And trust me, one look at the videos below and "cookie-cutter" is one term that definitely does not apply to The Mavis's. Behold the 80s style synths and soaring vocal lines in "Cry", Eastern influenced melodies and hardcore punk guitar riffing in "Naughty Boy", clever harmonies set against heavy metal riffing in "Box" and more.

Here's six of the best from many, many greats from their catalog. Enjoy.

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Paul Dempsey does Iron Maiden

Something for Kate are one of Australia's most consistently engaging rock bands. And as is you needed another reason to love the band even more, frontman Paul Dempsey is doing a video blog of sorts backstage on this tour where he plays an acoustic cover, shot in dodgy, gritty low-fi cinema quality.

He calls the series "Shotgun Karaoke" and the current episode #6 has to be seen to be believed.

The latest one is an acoustic version of "Aces High" by Iron Maiden. A brilliant and technically accomplished song in its own right, this is a version in which most of the technically fiddly bits are replicated within a guitar style that's not unlike that of someone like a Bert Jansch or Leo Kottke.

While Paul's vocals are a little muffled in parts, his guitar technique is simply explosive. This is goosebump stuff. Seriously.


Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Eurovision wrap-up and more

Eurovision 2013 is over and it has been won by Denmark. Their piece was cute enough, and the barefoot beauty that sang it was also quite fine.

Of course the event wasn't without it's controversies though.

Finland simultaneously advanced the cause of gay rights while setting women's rights back about 50 years with Ana Matronic's piece "Marry Me".

Romania dug up some kind of Transylvanian vampire androgynine eunuch thing with a beard that sang like a tenor and a castrati (go figure).

Some of the songs were pleasant enough, often sung in language by pretty young girls. Some obscure languages I've never heard sounding so gorgeous when sung.

Malta brought along the ukulele and the sunshine.
Austerity-bound Greece brought the free grog to the party with their Zorba-meets-The-Pogues-with-synchronised-moves-cribbed-from-Status-Quo tune.

As per usual though, the show has its share of strangeness, tackiness and pop princesses polished to the point of blandness. In other words, it was as much (maybe even a little bit less this year) of a trainwreck as it always is.

While I think of it, here's a track that makes Eurovision 2013 look like "The Nutcracker Suite".

Everybody has heard of Tiny Tim. Some of us are doing our utmost trying to forget him! Not long before his passing, he teamed up with a bunch of New York gutter punks by the name of The Ism for a remake of Tiny's best known song "Tiptoe Through The Tulips". Of course Tiny brings the ukulele and his trademark falsetto, but seriously, it's gotta be heard to be believed.

But be warned: once you've heard it, it cannot be unheard!

On that note, enjoy!

NB: The actual video for this track, with some very funny footage of Tiny headbanging in the studio has embedding disallowed, but it's worth a look here:

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Vale Ray Manzarek, of the Doors

Ray Manzarek, keyboardist for the Doors, has passed away from Bile Duct cancer, aged 74.

A colleague of mine remarked this morning that he felt Ray was the "brains" of the band, and I cannot disagree with that. Too often the doors are considered by many to be the band with the wild, mysterious, charismatic frontman...and the other three dudes. However, it was Manzarek that encouraged Jim Morrison to try singing and to hear his songs. It was Ray who encouraged the band to go out and get gigs and to write their own music. And it was also Ray that carried on the band long after it probably should have...

Ray really was the soul of the Doors. He was certainly the most musically accomplished. The fact that he played two keyboards at once (a Fender Rhoads for the bass and a Vox Continental for the lead parts) speaks volumes. The band never had a bass player, so Ray filled in the bottom end. On their last two records however, they used a session musician to play bass guitar.

History has shown the band to be influential in developing the psychedelic sound more than any other band. By incorporating long, winding keyboard and guitar solos, swelling dynamics and deep, inscrutable poetry, their music defined an era and it opened up the possibilities as to what was possible on record.

Too often, The Doors mystique overshadows their contribution to music, thus defining their legacy beyond all else. Sadly, a lot of fans regard Jim Morrison as some sort of mystical pseudo-deity, celebrated for his good looks, wild behaviour, legendary drug diet, sweet tenor voice, incomprehendable poetry and ass-hugging leather pants. This is at the expense of the other three members. The fact is, without Ray Manzarek there probably wouldn't be a band at all. That we have such great music from the band is something we should be profusely thankful for.

Suggested listening:

The Doors have something of a chequered discography. They made a great start with their self titled LP, which is one of the rare records where critics universally regard as one of the greatest records ever made. The Follow-up album "Strange Days" was recorded with the leftover songs that didn't make the first album, and as such it can only be a pale imitation. The next two records "Waiting for the Sun" and "The Soft Parade" were somewhat mediocre - while not terrible, they're just not as strong as the first two. "Morrison Hotel" and "LA Woman" were much better, drawing heavily on their original blues influence while being a little less philosophical. Jim Morrison died within weeks of "LA Woman"'s release in 1971. Ray, Robbie and John kept the band alive for 2 dismal records "Other Voices" and "Full Circle" before limping towards the inevitable dissolution. 8 albums in total and one live LP ("Absolutely Live" in 1970) during their time together. But there have been many, many compilations drawn from those albums.

For those looking for a place to start, the best compilation is the 2007 Rhino release of "The Very Best of the Doors", which has remastered the original tapes in high definition sound for the first time ever. For the hardcore fans, you can hear bits and pieces in the mixes that you may have missed previously, or that weren't there before. Things like "Break On Through" is featured here with the middle-8 uncensored, a longer fade-out on "Hello I Love You" and Jim's previously subliminal expletives in the crescendo of "The End" are lightly louder in the mix. There's a few little bits of studio banter at the top and tail of some tracks, add to that "Light My Fire" is presented in its pitch corrected version (the original release and subsequent releases were pressed from masters played at the incorrect speed) but in general, the sound quality of this release is by far the best of any compilation in the band's catalog.

"The Very Best of the Doors" is featured below. Get your fix of Ray Manzarek's transcendent keyboard playing...and the Lizard King's poetry while you're there.

Vale Ray. Thanks for the tunes.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Sunday Sessions - Cats and Jammers

One of the local schools has an open day on today. Nothing reminds me more of school and juvenile delinquency in general than this track.

It's by a Chicago based band called Cats and Jammers, who have traded in big, dumb adolescent fun since 1999. This song is just pure fun for all of its 2 minutes flat. The words are clever and it'll get stuck in your head for a long long time after hearing it. With a title like "Spitball", well I guess you can only draw one conclusion as to what the song is about...

As an added bonus, this album "Propose Toast" which contains 17 tracks and is a compilation of their first 3 LPs is available at the bands Bandcamp page for a measly $5. Rock on over and invest - it's a top notch record, cover to cover..


Saturday, 18 May 2013

Cadence, a capella from Canada

Yesterday my sons were introduced to a capella music for the first time via the brilliant vocal group The Voca People. Their History of Music Medley doing the social media rounds at the moment is nothing short of brilliant.

The young-uns just couldn't get their head around the fact that there are no instruments in this besides human voices.

Sensing a chance, I decided to get them to check out some Cadence, who are a four man a capella group from Canada. Their second LP from 2005 is brilliant. Titled "Twenty For One" it features some original material but also some well chosen covers, such as the one below.

Among versions of Gershwin, 10CC, Cyndi Lauper and Queen is this one, a gorgeous version of "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover" by Paul Simon.

I'm not too sure as to what is happening with the band these days since their second LP was released in 2010, but around here we hope they are still doing great things with that inimitable sound of theirs.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

100 LPs Shortlist #33: Alice Cooper: "Love It To Death"

Alice Cooper - Love It to Death - album cover

In 1989, after a career languishing in the doldrums through most of the previous decade, Alice Cooper hit paydirt. Aligning himself with the current crop of Big-hair-and-Glam-metal bands, his then current LP "Trash" was a perfect fit for the style at the time. Even the lead single "Poison", with it's lead guitar intro, sounded like a sibling to "Sweet Child O'Mine" by Guns 'n Roses.

Of course, this sudden surge of popularity caused the more curious music fans to dig deeper into Alice's back catalog. Some of the records from the 80s were hard to come by, such as "Dada" or "Zipper Catches Skin", while "Pretties for You" was impossible to find at all.

As I have mentioned previously, my uncle's 6-month European jaunt when I was 11 opened up my musical horizons to hitherto unheard-of areas. At that time, "Alice Cooper's Greatest Hits" was my introduction to the man's work, and it still an essential listen for anyone wanting to know what the fuss was about. So as my mates started digging into Alice's back catalog, I'd already had a primer of sorts.

Slowly but surely, by hanging out with these guys, I absorbed most of Alice's albums by osmosis. Slowly I purchased all the albums myself, but certain ones stick out as favourites.

"Love it to Death" is actually the band's third album and probably still the anomaly in Alice's discography. For many years it was the band's earliest available recorded music (Rhino, having absorbed the non-Zappa releases on his Bizarre and Straight labels, have only, in the last 10 years, reissued the first two LPs) and it features the band in a pivotal time in their development.

The band were trying to find their look and sound on this record. They knew they wanted to create shock and outrage and, looking at the front cover, they were about 20 years ahead of their time. Like David Bowie (on the cover of "The Man Who Sold The World") they were wearing women's clothing. In 1971, this was guaranteed to upset the moral majority in America and elsewhere. They then changed the image to be a more macabre image, with gore and blood on stage, as this would in fact pay greater dividends. As Jayne County said in an interview for the BBC program "Dancing in the Street", they were on the right track but "Americans understand horror", not transgender-ism and androgyny.

Musically they had hit upon a nice mix of melody, heavy metal crunch, prog-rock structure and experimentation. The proto-metal the band would be famous for gets its first run here. The hit from the LP "I'm Eighteen" still strikes a chord with disaffected kids, even those two generations removed from the kids listening to this on first release. Ironic then, that when the band recorded this, the average age of the members was 22.

The first three tracks leap out of the gate like a bat out of hell, solid rockers, all of them.  Track 4 is "Black Juju", a Doors-esque post-psychedelic freakout. It shows hints of the calculated weirdness from their first two albums, but it is buffed with a palatable sheen that makes it easier to listen to.

The jewel in the album's crown is the 1-2 punch of "Second Coming" and "The Ballad of Dwight Fry". "Second Coming" plays like the overture for the main feature, but it is a sombre rumination on mortality and madness before segueing into "Dwight Fry", which is a full-on examination of an institutionalised mental patient. This is clearly the precursor to tracks on mental illness that have turned up on later record like "From The Inside".

After 6-and-a-half minutes of "Dwight Fry", track 9 follows on straight away with no space. It is a version of (wait for it) "Sun Arise" by Rolf Harris. In a sense it is the dawn after the darkness of the previous two tracks, and makes perfect least it did 42 years before the ugliness of the accusations that have since surfaced about Mr Harris...

Alice Cooper had hit on their future direction here and, on successive records until the band imploded in 1974 (on successive records, lead singer Vincent Furnier took the name for himself as a stage moniker) they further refined the blueprint.

For my money it's the best record they ever made, with the first follow-up "Killer" a close second. Even if these albums (both released in 1971) were 20 years old when I got into them, they were still fresh and timeless, even then.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Midnight Oil - "My Country"

Midnight Oil - My Country

Let's face it - if you grew up in Australia in the 1980s, you grew up with Midnight Oil.

Most people remember the band's glory days from back then. Radio Triple M won't bloody well let us forget 'em. But one thing the revisionist commercial radio networks won't tell you is how strong the band were (at times) in the 1990s.

The band were most intense in the 1980s, releasing fiery records like "Place Without A Postcard" and "10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1" in the early part of the decade. With "Diesel and Dust" and "Red Sails In The Sunset" they tempered the sound slightly, but not the rage. Ditto "Blue Sky Mining" in 1990, but the songs just weren't that great.

After a live album in 1992, The band issued what is, in this writers opinion, is the last consistently great Oils LP, "Earth and Sun and Moon". The songs are beautifully composed, lushly arranged and performed, alternately soulful and tender or slammingly heavy as they need to be. The band toured the world on the back of the record, playing Glastonbury in the UK, on the Jools Holland Show, and doing MTV Unplugged (see below).  Ironically, it also happens to be a record that is criminally underrated in the band's discography.

Cruising around town on the weekend listening to the band's recent Essential Oils compilation in the car, the second single from the album "My Country" always gets turned up loud...

...right or wrong. Enjoy!

Monday, 13 May 2013

Spin The Black Circle #1: Ross Clelland

"Spin The Black Circle" is a new column where I ask well known people of note to select the soundtrack of their lives.

My inaugural guest is music writer Mr Ross Clelland. Ross has spent the better part of the last three decades writing for Juke magazine, Rolling Stone, Sydney street press Drum Media and He was also the editor of Smash Hits magazine for a time, as well as a music critic for the Sunday Telegraph in the 1980s. His long-running Singles review column in Drum Media has always been riveting reading: his reviews ranging from the glowing through to vitriolic, but, in the case of the latter, only when absolutely necessary of course! He's been a music fan for years and his passion for music is evident in his writing.

During my recent chat with Ross, I asked him to pick 10 songs that he'd would absolutely had to have on an iPod when stuck in outer space somewhere. These are his choices:

1. Bruce Springsteen, Thunder Road

Ross: "[I] Must have been about 13 when i first heard this. So, it was exactly the right time to hear something which is still a just about perfect distillation of what a rock and roll song should be - escape, cars, the girl, an army of guitars. Just saw him 20-something years after first seeing him a few months ago, and it can still make grown men weep. Me being one of them."

2. You Am I, If We Can't Get It Together

Ross: "[I] Just did a group interview with them as they've got these Hifi Way/Hourly Daily recital shows coming up. Still just love them. All my critical faculties turn to shit when i see them. Just become fanboy. They make me happy, make me sad, make me dance like a mad thing. This song isn't one of the hits, but is Rogers just telling a complete Inner-West domestic story in three minutes something. Breaks your heart, coz you know these people."

3. Wilco, I'm The Man That Loves You

Ross: "I've just watched this band become (musical unit-wise) probably the best in the world over the course of this century. This song was on Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, where they first became something more than a great band, but i'd probably take the version from Kick Television, as that's the lineup now - Nels Cline! I'm not a guitar hero geek, but that man is special."

4. The Saints, Ghost Ships

Ross: "I hate the whole Bailey v Kuepper non argument. You are allowed to love them both. This was Bailey at about 26-27 writing about getting older, and it actually resonates more the years that pass. Extraordinary thing. Certainly not punk, brass arrangement and classic song construction. Its weary, and alive all at once. its an anthem, it's a hymn."

5. Died Pretty, Everybody Moves

Ross: "On their night, I would have them against any band in the world. They could be phenomenal. And they could be shit. I called them the missing link between Radio Birdman and REM somewhere, and I'll stand by that. Again, its in the mix of the music - Brett Myers' spiraling guitar, John Hoey's keyboards, and Ron Peno's keening voice and words. Don't think they ever got it absolutely right on any record, but this was close."

6. The Triffids, Trick Of The Light.

Ross: "We had a game at the Drum one day working out what band you would be. I probably *wanted*to be Crowded House - all perfectly emotional and constructed, but am more likely The Triffids - with all those feelings, and sometimes over-reaching just a bit, but just being so sincere in the effort. They could be beautiful, like here. and 'You remind me very much, of someone that I used to know/we used to take turns at crying all night/but oh that was so long ago' absolutely speaks to me. Magnificent thing."

7. Hoodoo Gurus, 1000 Miles Away

Ross: "Faulkner is probably the most underrated singer and songwriter in the country. This a is a glory. And what a rock and roll band - Brad Shepherd's just a great player, and Mark Kingsmill still a world class drummer. And they can wind it down like on this, and be subtle and lovely as well being able to crank it up. You're just in the airport lounge with him on this, and wanting to be somewhere else."

8. The National, Afraid Of Everyone

Ross: "I got on the bandwagon late for them. But the atmospheres they build they've become one of my favourite things of the last couple of years. This one, with its wheezing opening and the quiet desperation, they somehow have bits of Springsteen, Joy Division, and other things in them. Live, they were like a religious experience while looking like office workers having too many scotches after business hours."

9. The Drones, Luck In Odd Numbers

Ross: "Absolutely Australian, sometimes oppressively so. Liddiard's voice is rusty corrugated iron. But the words, the stories. So dense, so much detail. He'd be a 19th century ballad poet if he didn't have such a grindingly good electric band with him. I particularly love this one, there's obscure kelly gang references, opium, and such word pictures like 'mineshafts lit like synagogues'. Anotehr one that just carries you somewhere else."

10. Crowded House, Fall At Your Feet

Ross: "[I could have picked] any one of a number of Crowded House tunes - Yeah, its a cheat, but Finn just writes the most extraordinary songs. I could have picked from Distant Sun, World Where You Live, Into Temptation, because they're all the wondrously put together things, both music and words. They're the songs they'll be playing in 50 years as showing the way pop songs should be made."

My thanks and gratitude go out to Ross for his contributions to this post. Check out his work in Drum Media magazine in Sydney and online at

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Sunday Sessions: Mother's Day

As you all know it's mother's day, a day when we salute the amazing job our mum's do for us.

There's about a million songs I could think of about the relationships between kids and their fathers, but mothers? That's a little tricky.

I wanted to include a song that would be a salute to mothers everywhere, but that was hard to find. I wouldn't even know what song my mum would choose as her favourite if I asked her, as she has quite varied taste.

Shortlisted for this post (and ultimately rejected) were:

The Waifs - "Gillian": Josh's affectionate tribute to his mother, but it's a little too personal.
Billy Thorpe - "Momma": it's not actually about a mother at all, but The Aztecs' keyboard player's wife.
Pink Floyd - "Mother": it's not exactly a complimentary picture of motherhood.
Danzig - "Mother": yeah we probably better not go there.
Guns and Roses - "Bad Obsession": ditto Danzig. Just read the lyrics to the first verse (NSFW)
Scatterbrain - "Goodbye Freedom, Hello Mom": I mean really, we're trying to be nice to our mothers, aren't we?
John Lee Hooker - "Boogie Chillun": His mum won't let him go out to see a gig.
The Beatles - "Your Mother Should Know": ok I love the Beatles, especially Paul's work. Even though "Mull Of Kintyre" makes this song look like a Mozart sonata, it's still crap.

Ultimately, I chose this one. Lenny Kravitz's "Always On The Run", whose verses are all made up of mother's wisdom and good advice. And it has a cute signoff too, almost like we're eavesdopping on a phone-call between Lenny and his mother.

Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers out there. I hope you're all getting spoilt by your kids!

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Remake/Remodel #3: Status Quo and the Camper Van

Pictures of Matchstick Men - Status Quo and Camper Van Beethoven

Pictures of Matchstick Men was the first single, and first hit record, by Status Quo in 1968. Back then, they were a psychedelic band, trying to follow in the footsteps of Syd Barrett's Pink Floyd, I guess. Lead singer and former ice cream van driver Francis Rossi wrote the song, apparently while on the toilet of his London apartment (I'm not making that up).

"When I look up to the skies, I see your eyes, a funny kind of yellow..."?

Hmmm. But just what was the inspiration? Jaundice?

Either way, it was a hit in that heady time that was the late 1960s. Looking at the clip below, you'd be surprised that this even exists. From 1970 onwards, the band hit upon the denim 'n' boogie formula that would pay them massive dividends (and earn them scorn and ridicule) for the next four decades. Prior to that, they were very Carnaby-Street, Swinging Sixties, almost bubblegum pop at times. The band didn't play this song in their live sets much after 1970. Apparently they play it a bit more now, at least since their 40th anniversary celebrations in 2008.

The Quo version of the song has all the hallmarks of a psychedelic record of the era - obtuse lyrics, strange, almost off-key guitars, wah-wah guitars, flanging, phasing, paisley shirts...

It was a sizable hit in Australia and in the UK. However, the Quo have never been at all popular in the United States. This track was a reasonable hit in 1968 however, as such, this track has rarely been heard over there in it's original configuration, until...

...the arrival of Camper Van Beethoven, stage left.

College rockers who were peers and labelmates of other college rock scene stalwarts such as REM and Oingo Boingo, they gave this track a spit polish and shine, adding it to their first LP for Virgin records in 1989, "Key Lime Pie". It was a number one Billboard Modern Rock hit for the band.

The CVB version is almost note-for-note identical to the original. The main difference is that, where Quo's version sounds thin and dinky, it is largely because of the then-state-of-the-art, now-primitive, recording gear it was captured on. The Camper version sparkles and shines. The trippy flanged/tremolo guitar of the original is replaced with a violin, and the guitars are revved up significantly.

Here's the original Status Quo version, live on BBC's Top Of The Pops:

And Camper Van Beethoven's version:

Verdict? Both versions are great. They both keep the integrity of the song intact, but the additional polish of the Camper Van Beethoven version has the edge for my taste.

Which one do you prefer? Drop us a line in the comments below.

Friday, 10 May 2013

Wonderfools - Story of Mr Brainache

It's the end of another week and I've had it. I've been so flat chat I haven't even given the blog a look-in. Here's a nice piece of escapism to jump around to and let to let off steam with.

It's a modern day anti-school track from a Norwegian punk band called The Wonderfools. The track is called "The Story of Mr Brainache".


Monday, 6 May 2013


Tactics were a Sydney based Alternative band in the 1980s. They formed in Canberra in 1978 by David Studdert and were regarded as an "art-punk" band.

This is a single of theirs called "Standing By The Window", issued as the B-side to "Gold Watch" and on the independently on the Long Weekend EP on the Folding Chair label in 1979.

Australian punk, for some reason, was regarded as culturally cringe-worthy during the 1990s. No-one wanted a bar of it. Outside of the Saints or Radio Birdman, other bands were just completely forgotten. Enter Tim Pittman, and his essential 2 volume set "Tales of the Australian Underground", which unearthed a whole heap of great bands, on 7-inch vinyl. His two double CD compilations look at bands who have concentrated their energies into the single - short sharp blasts of raw energy on one side of a 7-inch vinyl record. Most of the records are as rare as rocking-horse poo now, but they showcase a music scene that was as creative and as vital as the ones that broke out of London and New York in the 1970s.

Tactics had an unusual musical trajectory. Their music has been obtuse and obscure listening. It's quite hard to get into some of their music - at least I think so. This particular track is an example of the band at its most rocking: the band push-and-pull the tension and lead vocalist Studdert goes completely apeshit, sounding uncannily like David Surkamp from Pavlov's Dog on a bad dose of illicit stimulants. He frequently gets lost in the mix, and one assumes he is completely losing his shit in the studio, running around screaming about an impending doomsday approaching.

It's a compelling record, and Tactics are a band I really need to listen to more closely. Their two volume collection "The Sound of the Sound" are a great place to start if this track has you even mildly curious about the band.


Sunday, 5 May 2013

Sunday Sessions: Blow Up Hollywood

Following on from my previous post about Local Resident Failure, here's a socio-political statement of a different nature, with an all-too honest focus on the horrors of war.

New York based band Blow Up Hollywood released what many consider to be one of the best albums of the last 10 years, "The Diaries of Private Henry Hill" in 2006. Leader of the band, Steve Messina, met a man who had ventured into the homeless shelter he was managing. The man was in a state of shock after hearing the news that his son had died fighting in the Iraq conflict in 2004. The man lent Steve his late son's diaries, written from the front lines in the conflict.

The album the band created based on the diaries is both poignant and thought-provoking. It neither promotes, supports, nor condemns the war, but rather it weaves an aural story in the listener's mind that encourages them to form their own opinions. It is truly an astounding album, up there with the best concept records of Pink Floyd. Featured below is the first single from the album. The opening track, and scene setter for the album proper, "WMD".


Take a listen to the album:

Saturday, 4 May 2013

News Roundup

Making for a varied post today, here's some of the most reported news stories this week in the world of music.

The music world is mourning the loss of two of its more recognisable names this week.

Firstly, Slayer guitarist Jeff Danneman died of liver failure at age 49 yesterday. He had been suffering from complications from a spider bite in 2010 and this is believed to be related to that incident.

Here he is in action with the band he formed in 1982, with my favourite track of theirs, "War Ensemble".

Also this week, hip-hop act of the 90s lost one half of their membership, Chris Kelly, aka "Daddy Mac". He dies of a drug overdose, aged 34. I wasn't much of a fan of their work back in the day, but the wearing of their clothes backwards was kinda cool.

The late, great James Brown had a birthday yesterday. Despite the fact he left us in 2006, he is still a legend. The sound he made with Bootsy Collins and the JBs is still one of the most played sounds around TSATF HQ and will be for years to come.

Here's the great man and his band circa 1970 with "Give It Up or Turn It Loose"

The Gaslight Anthem are touring Australia next week and I'm spewing that I have only just found out that they are touring!!! Meaning that all tickets are gone and I can't go unless I want to pay some overprices scalper for tickets. Dammit!

Here's one of my favourite tunes from their latest record "Handwritten", called "Here Comes My Man".

See you tomorrow.

Friday, 3 May 2013

TSATF Recommends: Local Resident Failure

I literally just discovered this band in the last few days, and I cannot stop playing this song.

If there is one thing that I personally feel is lacking from a lot of modern music, it's the fact that people are too afraid to make a potent socio-political statement. In my view, since Natalie Gaines from the Dixie Chicks commented on her dislike of George W. Bush in the lead-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq and the fallout from her outburst, very few musicians have wanted to open their mouths in case they suffer a similar fate.

Frenzal Rhomb, a punk band out of Sydney have done a good job of lampooning the ridiculousness of Bogan (aka Chav in the UK or Redneck in the US) culture over the past 20 years. A new band bursting out of my former home town, Newcastle have come to take over Frenzal's mantle. They call themselves Local Resident Failure and this is a totally killer track taking a look at the stupidity of some of the idols, opinions and attitudes that some (not all) Australian people hold dear.

This is a great look at pop culture in Australia over the last few years with a lot of the images familiar to most Aussies who have lived here during that time. See how many you can identify!

It's short and sweet, done and dusted in under 2 minutes. In the last half of the song, around 1:26, the choice words start coming out, so if you're easily offended or you're at work, better wait until there are headphones available.

Otherwise, crank it up and ENJOY!!!

Thursday, 2 May 2013

In Court with John Fogerty

America has a reputation as a ridiculously and over-zealously litigious society. Writs apparently fly around like confetti.

Whether the reputation is justified or not is beside the point. Some of the ridiculous lawsuits that have been filed in America are plain laughable.

John Fogerty, of Creedence Clearwater Revival fame, found himself in the docks defending himself against a plagiarism charge in 1985. John had just released a new solo album called "Centerfield" and had a hit heading to the top of the charts called "The Old Man Down The Road". He was then sued by a music publisher, alleging John ripped off a song that the publisher owns the copyright to.

"And so he should", I hear you say. "You can't blatantly rip off another song and call it your own." The problem is, the lawsuit alleges that "The Old Man Down The Road" rips off "Run Through The Jungle" by Creedence Clearwater Revival - a song that John Fogarty wrote 15 years earlier!

So in short, John Fogerty was sued for writing a song that sounded too much like another song that he had previously written. Thankfully the jury in the case allowed common sense to prevail and upheld the composer's right to compose music that sounds like himself.

Have a listen to the two tracks back to back and judge for yourself.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

April 2013 Playlist

"Don't ask me why, but time has passed me by...
Someone else moved in from far away..."

Apologies to all the Bee Gees fans out there, but I can't stand their song "First of May" (from which the quote above comes). Nevertheless, the day that provides the namesake title is here and that means it's time to share the monthly playlist with you all.

What you get this month is another 225 tracks of eclectic goodness. Featuring:

  • Highlights from new releases by Eric Clapton, Karl Hyde, The Nature Strip, Sons of Rico, The Vaccines, Suede, Vydamo, The Band Perry, Mudhoney and more...
  • Classics from La Femme, Bernard Cribbins, Underworld, Neil Young, Joe Jackson, NotSensibles, Family, Stiff Little Fingers, Black Sabbath and more...
  • Hidden jewels in the rough by Autograph, Chevy, The Milkshakes, Blow Up Hollywood, Todd Rundgren, Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, Jimmy Eat World and more...
  • Australian classics with Leonardo's Bride, Men At Work, British India, Bodyjar, Redgum, Bob Evans, Dig, GANGgajang, The Drones, The Sports and more...
  • Esoterica with Gene Krupa, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Jack Dejohnette, Arnold Scoenberg, Derek Bailey and more.

So sit back, set the playlist to Shuffle, kick back and