Sunday, 30 June 2013

June 2013 Playlist

Greetings to whomever is in a summer place right now! I hope you are enjoying the sunshine!

In the southern hemisphere we're currently freezing our tits off in the throes of winter.

So I guess that means that, now we are one month into the thick of it, let's have the month's playlist.

June was a busy month, but especially for the accountants of the world. In fact, happy new year to all the financial people, as your new fiscal year starts today!

But enough of the crap. In this month's playlist you get:

  • New music from: Wardell, Baby Animals, Bernard Fanning, Birds of Tokyo, Black Sabbath, China Rats, Cloud Control and more
  • Classics from Bachman Turner Overdrive, Boomtown Rats, Cream, Custard, Christine Anu, Dinosaur Jr, Georgia Satellites, Iggy Pop, Green Day and heaps more
  • Aussie awesomeness from Hunters and Collectors, The Grapes, INXS, Little Birdy, You Am I, Magic Dirt, Missy Higgins, Rob Clarkson, The Saints, Sherbet, Sarah Blasko, Spiderbait, Youthu Yindi, Dragon, Drawn From Bees and heaps more
  • Esoteric goodness from Kasai Allstars, Osibisa, Cattle Decapitation, D.R.I., Blaster The Rocket Man and more.

Chuck it on Random, crank it up and most of all, ENJOY!

Sunday Sessions: Bachman Turner Overdrive

One of the great things about having a large music collection is that you never get tired of playing the same old albums over and over again. There is so much to choose from that variety is almost automatic and over-exposure is avoided.

One of the drawbacks is that you often forget about a lot of great music at the expense of what ever current thing you're into at that stage.

My employer was gracious enough to give me a day off on Friday, so I spent the day with my wife. During lunch, the video jukebox in the restaurant played a number of great tunes but it played a song by a band that I had not necessarily forgotten about, but had avoided listening to for a long time.

They played a tune by Bachman-Turner Overdrive called "You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet" which, if ever a commercial radio station ever play a track by BTO, that's the one and only tune they'll play. As I don't listen to commercial radio anymore, I'd avoided that song altogether.

If you were to believe what radio programmers think their audiences like, then you'd believe that Bachman-Turner Overdrive were one hit wonders, based on the amount of times that the aforementioned song is played on their stations. Dig a little deeper and you'll find many a gem that could use some extra attention.

For trainspotters, Bachman-Turner Overdrive were a stridently blue collar, working class rock band who slotted nicely into the 1970s rock scene alongside Status Quo and US southern rockers Lynyrd Skynyrd, even though BTO were Canadians. Co-Lead singer and guitarist Randy Bachman was a peer of Neil Young and played in one of Neil's first groups "The Squires" before joining Guess Who. Randy's voice is smoother and more soulful, while the other lead singer C.F. (Fred) Turner's voice is quite gruff.

Trawling through the band's back catalog there are plenty of gems, and today I present to you just two.

"Let it Ride" is pretty much the meta-song for a lot of the crap going on in my life at the moment. This live version is performed by a reformation of sorts featuring Randy Bachman and Fred Turner, billed as "Bachman and Turner".

The other track I wanted to share was a simple working class classic, the other big "hit" is ever there was one by BTO, called "Takin' Care of Business". Note that big guitar sound of theirs belting out that riff...

Until next time, ENJOY!

Saturday, 29 June 2013

Killing Heidi

Recently I posted 20 Great Female-Voiced songs from the past 20 Years.

I'm currently building a sequel to this list, as there are so many great artists that I omitted. Sadly, one of them was the great Killing Heidi with the lovely Miss Ella Hooper on vocals.

Without saying too much or giving too much away, enjoy this tune by the young Ella and her (now defunct) band...

Thursday, 27 June 2013

100 LPs Shortlist #34: Jimi Hendrix - "Smash Hits"

Jimi Hendrix's music, to this day, still has the power to blow the minds of aspiring teenage guitar players.

And that's not overstating the fact.

When recently reflecting on the man and his work in preparation for this post, I wasn't made to feel old by the fact that I am now 10 years older than he was when he died. Nor was I annoyed at my own failure to carve out a music career for myself when I was the age he was when he was most successful. Rather, I became a bit depressed when I thought about the fact that, in the 5 years or so before his untimely death in 1970 at age 27, he changed the way the Western world and everyone in it approaches the electric guitar. He changed the way guitarists play, sound, hold, use, manipulate and (in some cases) abuse their instrument. He contributed so much to the sound and style of rock music that it has never been quite the same, either before or since.

And that's not overstating the fact.

Very few guitarists have even come close to having a similar impact on the development of pop music as we know it, let alone rewriting the manual on how to play an instrument as we know it. Maybe Brian May, Eddie Van Halen, Jeff Beck, Pete Townshend and Chuck Berry have made substantial contributions, but even then, the sum of their influence would still be trumped by that of Hendrix.

People have tried to copy, with varied success, his look (Lenny Kravitz, Prince), his sound (Stevie Ray Vaughn among many others), his tendency towards avant garde noise, massive volume and feedback (Richie Blackmore, Kurt Cobain, J. Mascis from Dinosaur Jr.) but no-one has even come close to achieving what he did in those five short years.

And so over to little me, 14 years old in 1990, having started to play the guitar, heard about a guy named Jimi Hendrix from a friend at school. He'd borrowed a cassette of "Smash Hits" from the library. When I asked my friend about what it was like, the brief review he gave me was "Amazing guitarist, but he can't sing for shit".

Soon after, I saw the local music emporium had a tape copy going cheap. Being a compilation album, it was in the price range of a lazy jobless teenager, and so I purchased, and I listened.

Soon after, there was a documentary on SBS about him. Again I watched and listened and, sure enough...MIND. BLOWN.

No-one looked or sounded like that guy - all wild hair, questionable fashion and rough, raw, liquid and lightening fast guitar playing. To this day, nobody really does. Very few people have been daring enough on record ever since. Very few people have pushed the envelope of technology in the ways he did. Very few people have approached their instrument in ways that others hadn't before.

And it can get depressing. For anyone aspiring to be any good on an instrument, you start to ask yourself a number of questions:

Can you actually do that on a guitar?
How does he do that?
How does he get that sound?

and sadly it ends up becoming:

How the hell am I ever going to be that good? Will I ever be able to get close to being that good?

"Smash Hits", at least the British version, contains both sides of The Jimi Hendrix Experience's first three British singles that were not included on his first LP "Are You Experienced", a couple of tracks from the aforementioned first LP and "Burning of the Midnight Lamp", which was a non-LP single about 6 months out from the release of "Electric Ladyland" and tacked onto the end of side two of that LP. It's a tidy little package that serves as a great primer and introduction into the works of Hendrix.

Of course, this album has been superceded by many other great compilations, such as the definitive single disc compilation "Experience Hendrix". For all the years that "Smash Hits" was available in Australia through Polydor Records, each issue and subsequent reissue suffered from poor quality sound. Now that the Hendrix Family have reclaimed the master tapes of all his work, the sound quality is better than ever and, as a result, Smash Hits has been reissued in pristine sound, even though all the tracks are available on other albums.

From here, I moved onto Rykodisk's now deleted "Radio One" double LP, but "Smash Hits" served as my doorway into the massive and convoluted posthumous legacy that is Jimi Hendrix.

And that's not overstating the fact.


Sunday, 23 June 2013

Sunday Sessions: Suzanne Vega

Suzanne Vega, the artist whose biggest hit "Luka" is a heartbreaking first person account of child-abuse (albeit fictional), hasn't been very public in terms of hit records and radio play of late. I thought it was time to look back at some of her great tunes.

She is a New-York-based folk singer who got her start in the Greenwich Village scene much like Bob Dylan did 20 years earlier. Her first LP was issued in 1985 and it introduced the world to a writer whose songs had depth and power, while being sung in a voice that showed maturity and vulnerability all the same.

How cool is it that she would write a song from the point of view of a photo on her bedroom wall?

"Marlene watches from the wall,
Her mocking smile says it all
She records the rise and fall
of every man who's been here..."

On her latest LP, a 25th anniversary live recording of her second LP "Solitude Standing", she explains that the lyric may have been what Marlene would have said to her after watching all the happenings in that room. Suzanne then admits that, after recently reading her biography, Marlene would actually have said quite the opposite!

"Left of Center" was from the film "Pretty In Pink" and it is a great character of some of the marginalised street-urchins in the inner-city areas. Features Joe Jackson on piano.

"Blood Makes Noise" makes a marked change from her normal sound, but the idiosyncratic vocal and clever lyrics still shine through the sub-industrial arrangement.


Saturday, 15 June 2013

Sunday Sessions: The Saints

Brisbane punks The Saints really need no introduction. Their seminal first single "(I'm) Stranded" is essential listening irrespective of who you are.

Which brings me to "No Time", which was actually the B-side of the single that carried the aforementioned song "Stranded".

And like the title, I'm running behind on a lot of stuff that I need to get done, so here's the music.

I'm outta here until next time. Dig "No Time", and there also a bonus track here as well: the Saints on Britain's "Top Of The Pops" in 1977 doing "This Perfect Day". Classic stuff.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

20 Great tracks by women performers of the last 20 years

Apparently, according to some sources, the recent Hottest 100 of Triple J didn't have enough female voices in it. The list was voted for by 940,000 people, and it's hard to dictate to that amount of people what they should listen to, or to even vote for in a list like that.

If we're all honest, we're all a little guilty of gender imbalance in our listening habits, myself included. It would be very difficult to have an even 50/50 spread of female-to-male artists in any given listening diet, but that's not going to stop me from looking at some of the best songs by women in the period the recent Hottest 100 covered.

Bob Evans (aka Kevin Mitchell of Jebediah) did likewise recently, so in response, here's mine.

Gravity - The Superjesus (2000)

The first single from the band's second LP. Sarah's voice is gorgeous, as usual.

Atomic Electric - Rebecca's Empire (1994)

Rebecca's Empire were sadly underappreciated in their day. Their first LP was almost like a best-of album. It bundled up all the key singles and EP tracks that had been issued in the previous couple of years. "Atomic Electric" was one of their first releases and it demonstrates that a high level of songwriting craft is already present.

Good Fortune - PJ Harvey (2000)

PJ Harvey is one of a number of alternative rock singers whose catalog is deep and rich, but one that I personally haven't delved into. This is probably her most famous song, but not undeservedly so.

My Sister - Juliana Hatfield (1993)

Juliana Hatfield's most recognisable song is both a poignant and painful reflection of sibling relationships. Gorgeously sung with the tone of a little sister telling a grown-up about her experiences growing up.

Ladykillers - Lush (1996)

This track mines similar territory to Alanis Morrisette's "You Outta Know" but it is nowhere near as pissed off. It's targets are a number of men and specifically skewers some of the things we blokes do to try and impress the ladies. However, vocalist Emma Anderson is not impressed. At least she gives her targets some helpful hints in the chorus in order to improve their chances with her.

Polyester Bride - Liz Phair (1998)

Liz Phair gave the Riot Grrrl/Feminist pop movement a kick in the pants with her call-to-arms first LP "Exile in Guyville" in 1993. She then softened her approach in 2001 with a pop-makeover that had all the indie music types up in arms. In between times, she kept a holding pattern of pleasant indie-rock albums while starting a family of her own. This one comes from her first post-baby LP "Whitechocolatespaceegg". This track may not sound like much to being with, but it has a transcendent chorus that elevates the song to classic status.

Feed The Tree - Belly (1993)

Belly is a band from the 4AD label roster of bands. They're not a band I'm overly familiar with outside of the first Triple J Hottest 100 CD, but still this is a killer tune.

Hold On Hold On - Neko Case (2007)

I first discovered Neko as a member of indie-supergroup The New Pornographers. All the members of the Pornos have other bands and careers they work on in between group albums. Neko concentrates on a unique brand of alternative-country, one that is far, far outside the Nashville model of country as we know it and personally I'm greatful for that.

Make It Last - Kate Miller-Heidke (2007)

Classicly trained Brisbane-born vocalist Kate Miller-Heidke has been making challenging and curiously fascinating pop music for the better part of the last decade. "Make It Last" was where the mainstream finally caught up with her.

Stevie - Spiderbait (1999)

Spiderbait are a fascinating band. Variously described as thrash-pop, post punk and more, I just think the best way to describe their is that they do whatever the hell they want, and we love them for it. Having said that, this one is unusually funky for them.

Peachy - Missy Higgins (2007)

Ya gotta love Missy Higgins. She's rarely this chirpy and bouncy on record, but when she is, it's usually something to treasure.

Midnight - Elan (2003)

I credit my discovery of this track to my sister, who first played it for me. She's a big supporter of women's issues, women's rights and a huge supporter of women in the arts. She has some sharp taste in music too, as you can see from this track. Thanks, Sis.

I Can Dream - Skunk Anansie (1995)

Frontwoman Skin is one scary proposition. She wields a frightening image; on purpose. The proto-feminist stance of her lyrics wouldn't carry they gravity they do without that.

Dirty Jeans - Magic Dirt (2000)

This was the first time I really took notice of Magic Dirt. I didn't get into their noisy grunge records in the mid-1990s. My interest in the band co-incides with the moment they reigned in their more extreme aspects of their sound and focused on writing killer songs. Thus their career could almost be split into two halves - the noisy grunge period pre-2000, and the focused, post-grunge pop post-2000, from which this track was the first example of.

Don't It Get You Down - Deadstar (1996)

Man I miss Deadstar. They shone brightly but not for as long as the deserved to. Singer Caroline Kennedy's bell-like vocals on this track make my heart sing.

Only Happy When It Rains - Garbage (1995)

Garbage's first out was a dark horse when it was released in 1995. No-one expected a bunch of top notch session musos, record producers and a unknown vocalist from Scotland to be as great as they are. They surprised us all, and released one of the best debuts of all time, and one of the albums of that year. Of the five singles from the LP, this one was always my favourite. I'm never happy about inclement weather, but this is one of the best songs to play when stuck indoors on such an occasion.

London Still - The Waifs (2002)

Ok, so I posted this one previously, but I don't care. It fits the brief of being a great female-voiced track from the last 20 years.

Standing In The Way Of Control - The Gossip (2006)

Lead singer Beth Ditto is probably not someone you wanna get on the wrong side of. She's forthright and assertive and she makes this song all own. You can't help but believe that she means every word she sings.

Bang - Yeah Yeah Yeahs (2002)

New York's Yeah Yeah Yeahs have developed their sound to add a whole lot more polish over recent years, but the garage rock roots are still evident in their sound. This is a track from one of the very early EPs, when they were raw and ragged and, for my money, their most vibrant.

Paco Doesn't Love Me - The Spazzys (2004)

The Ramones may have been (at best) a rudimentary garage band, playing hyper-fast over-amplified 60s pop, but they cast a massive shadow of popular music. The Spazzys are three sprightly young ladies from Melbourne who, let's be honest, are shameless Ramones copyists (even down to their stage names: Kat Spazzy, Ally Spazzy, Lucy Spazzy) but damn don't they do it well. If nothing else, The Ramones were a hell of a lot of fun, and so are The Spazzys. This song is their first single, and it's a cracker. Play this tune LOUD and jump around like a nutter for 2 and a half minutes - you'll feel better for the effort.


Monday, 10 June 2013

Hottest 100 wrap-up, and how I got it horribly wrong

Well Triple J's latest Hottest 100, selecting from songs released in the last 20 years, is done and dusted. You can check out the list here, but upon reflection after the event, it's pretty clear why I could never survive as a professional bookmaker or a clairvoyant.  What I predicted to be in the list was totally off the mark.

I've also publicly declared that a certain Rage Against The Machine song would place highly, not even thinking that it was released in 1992. I incorrectly assumed that, because the song turned up in the first Hottest 100 of the previous year (the 1993 one), that it was eligible. According to Rate Your Music, the self-titled LP was released in November 1992, but the single was issued in 1993, but I'm splitting hairs.

Only two of my 20 songs appeared in the countdown: "Chop Suey!" by System of a Down at #26, and "Prisoner of Society" at #20. I was fairly correct in assuming none of the others would appear. You Am I's "Berlin Chair" was the only song of theirs to appear as I expected. Jebediah appeared twice; neither song I was expecting to be so popular ("Leaving Home" and "Harpoon", both from their first LP).

I really underestimated a lot of the entries in here. If John Butler was going to appear, I thought it would have been something other than "Better Man", like "Zebra" or "Better Than". I massively underestimated the popularity of Silverchair, with their god-awful track (well, ok, it was their first attempt at songwriting, and they were, like, 13 or something when they wrote it) "Tomorrow". It turns out that all the mid-20s people that would have voted for it were the ones who were about 10 when it came out and saved up all their pocket money to buy the CD single!

On Twitter, there were plenty of jokes getting around about the #16 entry...

I actually thought Jeff Buckley's "Last Goodbye" (#3) and "Hallelujah" (#36) would have been in opposite positions. Powderfinger were still popular, with two entries in the top 10, both from their 2000 LP "Odyssey Number Five".

I was dreading an appearance from Mackelmore's "Thrift Shop", but that didn't appear anywhere. It would be easy to suggest that even the staunchest fans of that song are now completely sick of it. I was surprised that Radiohead's "Fake Plastic Trees" didn't appear, and also that "Creep" didn't appear either. It was a foregone conclusion that "Karma Police" and "Paranoid Android" would appear however. 

I had massively underestimated the popularity of Oasis. They landed at Number One with "Wonderwall". When that song was released, I hated it. In fact, I just blanket-hated the band. I now regard "(What's The Story) Morning Glory?" as the best record they've ever done, despite the bad mastering job of the original CD. While I like the album and the majority of it's songs, I still can't see the appeal of "Wonderwall". It has been said to me by someone who lived in Britain in 1995 that "Wonderwall" caught the emotion and the general feeling of the time. Maybe so, but when I asked what that feeling was, they couldn't explain it. It was the only Oasis track to appear in the list, so it was easy to assume that Oasis wouldn't trouble the chart at all. 

Interestingly, the 2minute-2 second powerpop blast of "Song 2" by Blur appeared at number 22. Coincidence? You be the judge. 

There was a heap of variety in the mix and it was fun to be nostalgic for a while, but it still only painted a small picture of great music released during the last 20 years. Interestingly, while a lot of the music selected has filtered through to commercial radio in this country, there is still one hell of a lot of it that hasn't, and the mainstream still has a lot of catching up to do.

I'd love to see the list of the next 100 songs - the 101-200 list. That would be very interesting...

You can listen to the list below via Spotify. 


Saturday, 8 June 2013

Sunday Sessions: Stiltskin

We seem to have an almost alliterative thing going here with the Sunday sessions - recent bands all starting with S....

...well this week we're no different. It's not intentional I assure you!

This week we present Stiltskin.

After a rant about the bands that have gotten short shrift in the memories of our nation's music fans, here's an also-ran UK band whose biggest claim to fame arguably was soundtracking a Levi's Commercial.

It didn't hurt that the song they donated to the corporate world was a dead-set classic in the making. The short-lived Scottish band was the brainchild of guitarist and incidental music composer Peter Lawlor. Peter wrote the songs and formed a band to play them, calling them Stiltskin (as in Rumpel...). One night Peter met a guy who'd been in a car accident and was hitching a lift to make a gig he was performing that night. Peter duly obliged with the ride, and watched the vocalist's set that night. The vocalist was Ray Wilson, and Peter was impressed enough to offer Ray the gig as vocalist in his new band.

Their first mission was to record the soundtrack to the now famous Levis commercial, shot in black-and-white, centred around the coming of age, of sorts, of a pair of teenage sisters on a picnic (that's not as sinister or as suspect as it would seem. Look, just watch the clip).

The song Peter wrote was called "Inside" and he played all the instruments on it, with the exception of the choral voices at the start and the lead vocal. The song was released as a single and hit #1 in the UK in 1994. In Australia or the US it didn't get that far, but it is still a track that is worth revisiting again. Follow-up singles didn't hit the mark with only "Footsteps" reaching #34, thus consigning Stiltskin to "One-hit Wonder" status.

Stiltskin officially broke up in 1996 during the recording of their now-unreleased second LP. Ray, incongruously, replaced Phil Collins as vocalist in Genesis, working on the 1997 LP "Calling All Stations" and on the subsequent tour. Stiltskin have reformed with only Ray being the only original member of the new lineup. Peter Lawlor still writes music for commercials and TV shows in the UK.

The song has this massive sound and a grand, theatrical sweep to it that compliments the ad perfectly in this writer's view. Ray's gruff voice suits the post-grunge rock of the track, however he doesn't have a massively wide vocal range (which is why I thought his position as Genesis vocalist was and/or is a bit strange). The guitar riff is a killer - quite simple and effective, and heaps of fun to play for any budding guitarists out there!

So for your listening perusal, I present "Stiltskin" with their classic "Inside".

Enjoy your long weekend (Australian Readers!)

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

My Votes for Triple J's 20th Anniversary Hottest 100

This weekend, on the 8th and 9th of June 2013, Triple J radio celebrates the 20th anniversary of the Hottest 100 by running a poll of the best songs from the last 20 years.  It's a curious thing because Triple J in recent years have not been known to be nostalgic, and nor have their audience. Their target audience is supposed to be aged between 18-30, the younger end of the scale may not be ready to buy into such nostalgia yet.

The voting procedure limits you to a list of 20 songs to vote for.  I've cast my vote and I feel quite torn about it. I took ages to decide on my 20 songs, but I really feel I've wasted my time. Very few of them have got a real chance of appearing, despite the fact I genuinely consider these tracks to be some of my very favourite songs of the last 20 years. There are so many other songs that I could have voted for - at one stage I had a short list of over 200 songs to choose from, and that was only from songs that actually DID make their respective countdowns in the first place.

Here's why I'm torn: There are songs that I know would easily make it in the list on the weekend, so do I really need to bother voting for them? Do I just vote for the songs that I'm most passionate about?

I've voted for the songs I'm most passionate about, but they seem very much to be songs that few others are also passionate enough about. At least not enough to vote for in a countdown such as this. I could be proven wrong on the day, but I highly doubt it.

I can predict already, based on what turned up in the last Hottest 100 of all time in 2009 what will make a good showing this time around.

There will be a stack of Radiohead in the countdown, for sure. I've voted for "Fake Plastic Trees". I absolutely love that song, but it didn't chart in 1995, the year of its release. In fact there was absolutely no entries from Radiohead in 1995, despite the fact that "The Bends" is almost universally regarded as a classic LP. You can bet on "Creep" being in the top 10, along with "Paranoid Android" and "Karma Police" at least somewhere in the middle numbers.

If Rage Against The Machine's "Killing In The Name" doesn't make top 10, I'll eat my hat. Jeff Buckley's "Hallelujah" will be in the top 10 too. Jeff's sublime version of the (relatively) obscure Leonard Cohen song, like Radiohead's back catalogue, has gotten way more popular since its first release. "Prisoner of Society" by Living End should place highly, as this anti-establishment gem still resonates with anyone who likes to kick against the system.

I didn't feel the need to vote for Jeff Buckley or RATM as they will most likely have enough support on their own. Here are my choices

Teenage Fanclub - Sparky's Dream

Why I voted for it: This is one of the most sublime Beach-Boys-meets-Nirvana pop songs I've ever heard, and one that always takes me to a magical place every time I hear it

Why it won't make it in the countdown: Quite simply, this was the last time the band made a Hottest 100 countdown. For some reason, their fanbase in this country is just not strong enough to get great tunes like this into prominent positions, despite the quality of the music.

Original Hottest 100 placement: #60 in 1995

Jebediah - Feet Touch The Ground

Why I voted for it: Jebediah were not known for their emotional depth, but on this song they get deep without getting cheesy.

Why it won't make it in the countdown: Like a lot of Australian bands from the 1990s, they just don't get much of a run on radio anymore.

Original Hottest 100 placement: #28 in 1999

The Living End - Prisoner of Society

Why I voted for it: It still gets the blood pumping.

Why it won't make it in the countdown: It will, and it will probably do alright for itself.

Original Hottest 100 placement: #15 in 1997

Godstar - Tea For One

Why I voted for it: It's a cute, slightly raggedy, but forthright breakup song that has a special meaning for me.

Why it won't make it in the countdown: The only Half-A-Cow label band to ever make an entry in a Hottest 100 was Sidewinder with "Titanic Days", and even then it only made #92. For some reason the listening public is either unaware of or apathetic towards the great collection of bands on the label.

Original Hottest 100 placement: Didn't chart on original release in 1995.

Radiohead - Fake Plastic Trees

Why I voted for it: In retrospect, Radiohead's second LP was missed by lots of people, this writer included. Going back to it now there's lots to love, including this melancholy gem.

Why it won't make it in the countdown: It will appear somewhere in the countdown, because, like me, a lot of people have retrospectively reappraised Radiohead's back catalog.

Original Hottest 100 placement: Didn't chart on original release in 1995. #28 in the Hottest 100 of all time 2009.

Eagles of Death Metal - I Want You So Hard (Boy's Bad News)

Why I voted for it: Gotta love a bit of scuzz rock. This is short, sharp and to the point. Fun all the way.

Why it won't make it in the countdown: Eagles of Death Metal always took a back-seat to their hipper, trendier sister group Queens of the Stone Age. They've always been regarded as a bit "jokey", despite releases by both bands having a healthy sense of humour. QOTSA will get a good run in the countdown, but there'll be little room for the kooky side-project.

Original Hottest 100 placement: Didn't chart on original release in 2005

You Am I - Jaimme's Got a Gal

Why I voted for it: You Am I have many great moments, but few are rarely as tender and touching as this one. It deserves more attention than it usually gets.

Why it won't make it in the countdown: This one has always been overshadowed by "Berlin Chair" which is universally regarded as the quintessential You Am I tune. Sad but true, but Berlin Chair will get a run, but little else from Timmy Rogers and Co will appear.

Original Hottest 100 placement: #77 in 1994

Ben Lee - Catch My Disease

Why I voted for it: This is probably the last time Ben Lee had "fun" on a record of his, and that fun

Why it won't make it in the countdown: Being so catchy, I believe it has/had a high burn rate, meaning that people get really sick of it very quickly.

Original Hottest 100 placement: #2 in 2005

Pollyanna - Pale Grey Eyes

Why I voted for it: It still sounds great today. It stands up well against any other modern song you care to name.

Why it won't make it in the countdown: Their legacy hasn't endured well. Their back catalog has been deleted, the band all but forgotten by most. Lead guitarist/singer Matt Handley is now a guitar-tech for Tame Impala. Clearly the role of elder statesman of Australian Rock went to somebody else.

Original Hottest 100 placement: #68 in 1995

Atomic Swing - Stone Me Into the Groove

Why I voted for it: Not since Hendrix has a Fender Stratocaster sounded so sweet or been played so funky!

Why it won't make it in the countdown: This was their only flush of fame, and even that was 20 years ago. People have short memories.

Original Hottest 100 placement: #10 in 1993

White Zombie - More Human Than Human

Why I voted for it: Crushingly heavy, it's heaps of fun to jump around to.

Why it won't make it in the countdown: After this was released, Rob Zombie released a few solo records that were a parody of himself, and he has since exiled himself to bad Horror movie hell.

Original Hottest 100 placement: #49 in 1995

Buffalo Tom - Taillights Fade

Why I voted for it: The entire catalog of Buffalo Tom is criminally underrated, and this track is one of their most profound statements capable of inducing goosebumps in grown men from 2 seconds in. Also a favourite of Murray, the former Red Wiggle (although that's not why it's notable)

Why it won't make it in the countdown: Another case of "out of sight, out of mind". Not altogether terribly popular in their day, not popular enough to get voted in this time around.

Original Hottest 100 placement: #53 in 1993

Fini Scad - Coppertone

Why I voted for it: Once a great white hope as the next big Australian band, they just disappeared after their one great record, never to be heard from again. The sweeping, soaring melody line in this should be regarded as a national treasure.

Why it won't make it in the countdown: So why isn't this a national treasure? Ask Peter Garrett, he has the answer: "Short memory, must have a....". How soon we forget...

Original Hottest 100 placement: #42 in 1996.

Bloc Party - Like Eating Glass

Why I voted for it: Bloc Party are a strange but harmonious mix of Punk attitude, angular post-punk guitars and dance beats. Full of energy and passion. This is a worthy opening track on their first LP.

Why it won't make it in the countdown: If any Bloc Party track gets in, it'll probably be "Hunting for Witches".

Original Hottest 100 placement: #88 in 2005

Best Coast - The Only Place

Why I voted for it: A Current favourite, and I was looking to vote for a worthy recent track. They don't come more worthy than this one.

Why it won't make it in the countdown: It didn't get the coverage it deserved on the radio.

Original Hottest 100 placement: Didn't chart in the Hottest 100 on release in 2012. Charted at #177 when the subsequent 100 were counted down a few weeks later. Oddly enough, it was the 42nd most played song on Triple J in the 2012 calendar year. Go figure.

Even - Stop and Go Man

Why I voted for it: One of the best pop songs written by an Australian, in my view. Why wouldn't you vote for it?

Why it won't make it in the countdown: See above. Not many people agree with me.

Original Hottest 100 placement: Did not chart on release in 1996.

The Whitlams - You Sound Like Louis Burdett

Why I voted for it: For anyone living in the big smoke in Australia, this song resonates with the inner city way of life. Not only that, this sprightly song is one the Whitlams' best.

Why it won't make it in the countdown: It may do - it's probably not the most popular song of theirs, but it may be popular enough to appear.

Original Hottest 100 placement: #53 in 1997

System Of A Down - Chop Suey!

Why I voted for it: A controversial song on its first release (it was released within weeks of the 9/11 attacks in 2001), its incomprehensible verses are iconic.

Why it won't make it in the countdown: It'll probably make the top 20 somewhere.

Original Hottest 100 placement: #3 in 2001

The Fratellis - Chelsea Dagger

Why I voted for it: The recent crop of English bands such as Bloc Party, The Fratellis, Kaiser Chiefs, Dogs Die In Hot Cars et al are stunning at times, and they have turned out a collection of vital singles between them to rival those of their counterparts in the 1990s. This one is a classic - try not singing that tag line for hours after you hear it.

Why it won't make it in the countdown: Apparently Australians don't buy British sounding records, according to some commercial radio programmers. Should this prove to be the case, this song won't have a prayer.

Original Hottest 100 placement: #59 in 2007

The Waifs - London Still

Why I voted for it: A beautiful song, timeless and ageless. An easy sentiment to relate to - of being a long way from home and hanging to get back there.

Why it won't make it in the countdown: Of all the great songs The Waifs have created in their long career, this one would be the great white hope. If any track of theirs was to appear, it's probably be this one.

Original Hottest 100 placement: #3 in 2002.

These are all songs that I genuinely think are some of the greatest songs of the last 20 years. The problem is that what I think are cool are so out of step with what the general populace thinks. I don't think it's because what I like is so esoteric, but I think a lot of great music gets lost in the shuffle since we have so much great music available to us thanks to the Internet. That's why I have this blog - to share some music that has gotten lost in the shuffle.

I really have no idea what will be in the final list. I'll be tuning in, however, to see if my predictions will be accurate.


Monday, 3 June 2013

Vale M Yunupingu

Lead singer of Yothu Yindi, the groundbreaking Yolgnu rock band from Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory, has passed away from renal failure aged 56.

In the early 1990s Yothu Yindi were inescapable. They did the unthinkable for a band of indigenous Australians - have hit records with a fusion of traditional Yolgnu sounds (such as digeridoo and clap-sticks) and R&B-infused rock, sung partly in English and partly in Gutjamati, the language of his people.

He did a great deal to educate Australians regarding the plight of Aboriginal people in Australia and was one of the leading campaigners for reconciliation between the indigenous people of Australia and the current Australian government.

By trade he was a teacher, the first indigenous person to gain a Bachelor degree from Deakin University. He was also the first indigenous school principal in Australia. With the help of Paul Kelly and Peter Garrett, the song "Treaty" hit the top of the charts (thanks to a fiery remix from Filthy Lucre) in 1991 and the album Tribal Voice became a multi-platinum seller.

Yothu Yindi were inducted into the ARIA hall of fame in 2012 and Mr Yunupingu gave an induction speech. At that stage he looked very frail and sadly nearing the end. He had been suffering from renal failure and was on dialysis treatment. He died on Sunday June 2, 2013 at his home in Arnhem Land. His vitality, vibrant music and passionate work for both indigenous and non-indigenous Australians will be missed.

Vale Mr Yunupingu.

EDIT: This post has been edited to remove the photo and Mr Yunupingu's first name. We apologise for any offense caused to any indigenous readers.

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Sunday Sessions - Sidewinder

How that for alliteration?

I was thinking about voting in Triple J's 20th Anniversary Hottest 100 and I was thinking back over some of the great local and international bands during that period. I was struck by the poor showing in the polls of many of the artists from the small Sydney indie label Half a Cow Records. Half A Cow was a vehicle for the music of proprietor Nic Dalton and his bands The Love Positions, Godstar, Sneeze, The Gloomchasers and many others, as well as similar bands like Smudge, SPDFGH, Papas Fritas, Glovebox and Crow.

None of the bands in this great stable of bands has made much of a dent in the Hottest 100, sadly. The only band to make any sort of showing at all is Canberra-formed, Sydney based band Sidewinder. Starting with two EPs aearly in 1993, their debut lp "Atlantis" was issued in 1995, and it is a widescreen epic, if ever there was one. It contains the fuzzy-yet-catchy singles "Evil Eye" and "Not Coming Home".

Second album "Tangerine" upped the psychedelic aspect of their music and in do so they became even more epic with their sound. However, while it sounded great, the public didn't respond and only the lead single "Titanic Days" (also featured in the film "Blackrock") made any dent in the charts. It appeared in the 1997 Hottest 100 at 92 - the band's only ever entry.

Sadly by 1999 it was all over for the band. But, we still have the music. It's available on iTunes, and also, below. We have two tracks by Sidewinder for you to sample: "Evil Eye" from 1995 and "Titanic Days" from 1997.


Saturday, 1 June 2013

May 2013 Mixtape

Well, well, welcome to the first day of Summer if you're in the northern hemisphere, or the first day of Winter in your south of the Equator. The first day of winter here today is quite mild but they tell us it won't last long.

Despite the doom and gloom predictions, here's a heap of great music compiled lovingly over the last month for you to get down and dirty with.

This month we start with a few leftovers from April, but in addition we feature:

  • New tracks from Kurt Vile, Frank Turner, !!! (Chk Chk Chk), Kasey Musgrave, Thee Oh Sees, Holy Ghost, Atoms for Peace, Jinja Safari and more
  • Memories of stars passed, in memoriam of Ray Manzarek (The Doors), Alvin Lee (Ten Years After), Daddy Mac (Kris Kross)
  • Classics from Ray Charles, Counting Crows, Dave Dobbyn, Cold Chisel, Metallica, Elvis Costello, Wilco, Bob Dylan
  • Aussie legends from Grinspoon, The Fauves, The Mavis's, Baby Animals, Kisschasy
  • and some of the songs I'm debating voting for in the 20th Anniversary of Triple J's Hottest 100 by the likes of King Missile, US3, Neneh Cherry, Groove Armada, Lard, Ash, Supergrass and more...

as well as songs from all the artists we have featured on the blog during the month.

Cue it up, put it on random, turn it up and, most importantly,