Category: Music

butterflyeffect

Interview: The Butterfly Effect

Breakups are never easy and as a rule of thumb, they signal the end of a relationship. However for The Butterfly Effect, the departure of their singer Clint inspired a National tour and spirits could not be higher.

 

The Butterfly Effect is part of an exclusive club of artists that have achieved real success locally and developed a loyal fan-base over their 13 year journey. With 5 commercial releases to their name, The Butterfly Effect consolidated an important place in the alternative rock landscape and this success hasn’t been limited to Australia. To their credit, the group has also had exposure in Europe and South Africa. Sadly however, the group is undergoing some change as vocalist Clint makes his exit from the band. It’s at this point in time that I recently took the time to speak with Kurt (guitar) to discuss the group, its direction and their National Tour.

Kurt appears relaxed as he responds calmly to my predictable first question “…we just weren’t getting along I suppose. It wasn’t a happy dynamic in the band for a while and I think music was ‘the glue’ that kept us together”. I suggest that this animosity had strained relationships, but Kurt was quick to point out that the group doesn’t actually hang out all that much together. For the public – who seldom sees a band apart – this is striking comment. One can naively forget that band members don’t all live together and spend their days accumulating in-jokes and songs.

Kurt explains that Clint had made movements towards starting a side project some time ago and that the group had accepted this, as they were each looking for a new ‘feel’ or a new ‘sound’ in their music. It just so happened that Clint found it in a new band.

So how does a band steer a break-up into a national tour? Well, I get the feeling from Kurt that Clint’s departure allowed the members to connect in a way that they had been unable to for a while; openly. “We were able to turn a negative into a positive” Kurt explains, “working with Clint had felt ‘misaligned’ since Imago (2006) but we were able to come together and we’ve revamped all our old material for the tour”. I’m struck with the recollection of Lars Ulrich and his monosyllabic tirade on James Hetfeild in Metallica: Some Kind of Monster, and how incredible it is for a rock band in turmoil to find a positive and turn their heads to something creative.

I asked Kurt if it was upsetting that the catalyst for working together so well was Clint’s departure? “I’d never thought of it like that… it’s unfortunate that we couldn’t grow together. But he’s found the direction he was looking for and I’m happy for him and I’m excited to be playing our music with him in a new way. I’m really excited about this tour”. Kurt clearly harbours no hard feelings about Clint finding his inspiration ‘outside’ and that has to be respected.

What’s next for The Butterfly Effect? A singer down and coming off the back of a huge tour, there are a few big questions for the band. Kurt explains they’re obviously in the market for a vocalist “We’ve been in the industry a long time, we’ve got a good knowledge of who’s out there.” I suggest that Kurt might consider taking charge of the mic. “Nah, that’s not really my thing, Clint really owned it and I think we need someone like that.” So is there anything they’re looking for in particular? “It’s not complicated: if their voice is fucking amazing.”

Are you looking at this shift as an opportunity to expand your audience? “We have a lot of new material and a new vocalist will open opportunities”. Kurt spoke at length of the new material being created by the group, excited by the new energy the group has and the freedom they now feel to write new music. When asked if the band still has international ambitions, Kurt responds “we’ll go where the music takes us.”

So watch this space. The Butterfly Effect still has a few more tricks up their sleeve and if you missed them on their recent tour, fear not – I have a strong feeling they will be on the road again before too long!

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Singles Review 01/08/12

SINGLE OF THE WEEK
(Well, actually single of a couple of weeks ago, but it’s still great)
Menomena – Heavy Is As Heavy Does
The first taste of the Portland duo’s upcoming is a stark melancholic number, dealing with genetic pessimism. The deeply running heavy hearts of Justin Harris’ family evoke a stark lyricism and the theatrical piano combine to form a gorgeous, but heart-wrenching single.
“Heavy are the branches, hanging from my fucked up family tree” – Chills. Moms is out September 18.

Elton Versus Pnau – Good Morning To The Night
It shouldn’t work…and it doesn’t.
Elton John and Pnau collide and make something not quite as good as either of their originals.

The Shins – It’s Only Life
James Mercer’s output has never quite really done anything for me personally. This isn’t anything different to what The Shins have ever done, sweet, slightly melancholic and never really goes anywhere. If that’s your boat, go for it.

Bloc Party – Octopus
It seems the four piece have finally got it together. By got it together, I mean they got the experimenting with electronic music, via Kele Okereke’s solo project and Bloc Party’s second and third album’s A Weekend in The City and Intimacy. This is Silent Alarm but poppier. If you’re not excited for Four, you should be.

Deerhoof – The Trouble with Candyhands
Most of Deerhoof’s stuff whilst being incredibly catchy, leaves me scratching my head with a sense of ‘What did I just listen to?’
The Trouble with Candyhands is not different in the slightest, being a catchy brass driven number. The new album Breakup Song is out September 3.

Animal Collective – Today’s Supernatural
Another to file under ‘What did I just listen to?’, Animal Collective’s latest single takes the pop sensibilities of their breakout effort, Merriweather Post Pavilion, and turns it on it’s head, stepping back more towards their Strawberry Jam/Sung Tongs sound. Still not sure if it’s any good or not, but it’s unmistakeably Animal Collective.

Far East Movement – Turn Up The Love ft. Cover Drive
From those established geniuses of popular music, Far East Movement, who gave us Shakespearean hooks such as ‘Feeling so fly, like a G6’ comes the next big single, ‘Turn Up The Love’. From the chorus of “We are one tonight and we breathing in the same air, So turn up the love, Turn up the love, We turnin’ up the love” Far East Movement have constructed a deeply affecting piece of modern art.
But don’t believe what I have to say, look at this still from the accompanying video:
Far East Morons
Truly the voices of a generation.

Justice – New Lands
Normally, I’d advise avoiding, as it sounds like Daft Punk trying to make music for the evening sports program slow-mo montage music, but doesn’t quite work as those songs need to be exciting and not as dull as this is, but the video is brilliant. Put it on mute and put Eye of the Tiger over the top or something.

VIDEO OF THE WEEK
PSY – Gangnam Style

If you haven’t seen this video by now, it makes all other K-Pop videos pale in comparison with weirdness and is just a lot of fun.

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The Return of the Sugababes, And All That is Good About Pop

Flashback to 2000 – Britney Spears was still a virgin (pfft), Christina Aguilera was not yet dirrrty and bands like Spice Girls and NSYNC ruled the airwaves. Pop music was formulaic, clean, wholesome and – let’s be honest – a little boring. Then three average looking, moody teenage girls from Kingsbury in London decided to give it a crack. Mutya Buena, Keisha Buchanan and Siobhan Donaghy founded the Sugababes in 1998 and released their first single, ‘Overload’ in 2000. The song’s elegant fusion of pop and electronic influences over an R&B beat, paired with a simplistic video, separated the girl group from the pack and provided the foundation for a British pop institution that still exists today. Except for that the Sugababes today consist of three different members. Awkward.

In Australia they are probably best known for their 2005 summer hit, ‘Push the Button’, but in the UK they have survived seven albums, multiple tours, and three line-up changes. First to go was Siobhan. Originally pitched as the lead singer, jealousy and infighting between the girls lead to Siobhan leaving the group during a promotional tour through Asia. It was reported that during an interview she excused herself to the toilet, left the building and booked the first flight back to Britain. This is obviously a lesson in why you shouldn’t trust redheads. They quickly replaced her with the blonde Heidi Range and subsequently released their sophomore album, Angels with Dirty Faces.

This is when the ‘babes, if you will, truly hit the big time. Whilst their first album One Touch was a critical darling, it underperformed in the UK, and their next three singles all missed the top 10. Conversely, their first two singles with Heidi, the epic ‘Freak Like Me’ and ‘Round Round’ when straight to number 1. This all sounds good right? Except that Heidi brought very little to the table creatively. Whilst this allowed Mutya and Keisha to truly shine, it also allowed the music to become formulaic. Mutya would take the first verse, Keisha the second, and Heidi was let out of the cage every now and again to sing the final bridge. More than that, Heidi had the nerve to actually smile in interviews and not be difficult. This just made the others look like bitches, causing more infighting and Mutya later admitted that she simply pretended Heidi wasn’t there when she first joined the band.

Miraculously, this line-up survived two more albums, 2003’s Three and 2005’s Taller in More Ways before Mutya Buena called it a day. She claimed that she wanted to spend more time with her baby daughter but within 18 months she had a solo record out. Within a year she was a ‘celebrity’ on UK’s ‘Celebrity Big Brother’, illustrating why you shouldn’t lie to get out of pop groups. She was replaced with Amelle Berrabah, a sexy, rough-around-the-edges girl with similar heritage to Mutya. It soon became apparent that the Sugababes were turning into just another girl band, by being replaceable and relying on their looks and songs other people wrote in order to remain successful. Their 2007 album Change (geddit?) produced only one hit single, ‘About You Now’, written by hit-maker for hire Dr. Luke. Keisha, being the sole original member left, tried to take back control by writing the majority of the sixth album, Catfights and Spotlights without the other two girls, but could not produce a single megahit.

In 2009, their record label decided to outsource the writing and production of the babes’ 7th album Sweet 7 to Roc Nation, Jay Z’s record company. Now the girls had lost all say in their career, causing even more fractions to form within the destabilising pop group. Amelle started skipping gigs and eventually forced their managers to pick between herself and Keisha. Hmmm… the difficult sole original or the pliable, gracious newcomer? Clearly a hard choice. Keisha was booted out and replaced with Eurovision starlet Jade Ewen. To quote a current cultural fad, this is 50 shades of just wrong.

Fast forward three years, the Sugababes are without a record contract and are on “hiatus” until the “time is right” to release their eighth album. Sure. The good news is that the three original members have reformed under the new name Mutya Keisha Siobhan. Crap name, but they’re working on material with some of the best in the industry, including Xenomania, Emeli Sande and Cameron McVey, who helped pen ‘Overload’. Whilst no material has been released yet, NME writer and webmaster of the PopJustice website reports that it is “officially not shit”, which in PopJustice terms means “life-changing, epic pop music”.

The girls are now in their mid-late 20s, reasonably attractive without being supermodels, and all have had unsuccessful solo careers. This again separates them from most of the other girl groups around, a promising start to a career that will hopefully last more than one album and, thanks to that hideous name, not go through any line up changes. With the pop music world again looking formulaic, wholesome and bland thanks to the likes of Bieber and David Guetta, we again must look to these three girls to save the pop universe from itself.

Don’t fuck it up.

mutya-keisha-siobhan-fotos

The Return of the Sugababes, And All That is Good About Pop

Flashback to 2000 – Britney Spears was still a virgin (pfft), Christina Aguilera was not yet dirrrty and bands like Spice Girls and NSYNC ruled the airwaves. Pop music was formulaic, clean, wholesome and – let’s be honest – a little boring. Then three average looking, moody teenage girls from Kingsbury in London decided to give it a crack. Mutya Buena, Keisha Buchanan and Siobhan Donaghy founded the Sugababes in 1998 and released their first single, ‘Overload’ in 2000. The song’s elegant fusion of pop and electronic influences over an R&B beat, paired with a simplistic video, separated the girl group from the pack and provided the foundation for a British pop institution that still exists today. Except for that the Sugababes today consist of three different members. Awkward.

In Australia they are probably best known for their 2005 summer hit, ‘Push the Button’, but in the UK they have survived seven albums, multiple tours, and three line-up changes. First to go was Siobhan. Originally pitched as the lead singer, jealousy and infighting between the girls lead to Siobhan leaving the group during a promotional tour through Asia. It was reported that during an interview she excused herself to the toilet, left the building and booked the first flight back to Britain. This is obviously a lesson in why you shouldn’t trust redheads. They quickly replaced her with the blonde Heidi Range and subsequently released their sophomore album, Angels with Dirty Faces.

This is when the ‘babes, if you will, truly hit the big time. Whilst their first album One Touch was a critical darling, it underperformed in the UK, and their next three singles all missed the top 10. Conversely, their first two singles with Heidi, the epic ‘Freak Like Me’ and ‘Round Round’ when straight to number 1. This all sounds good right? Except that Heidi brought very little to the table creatively. Whilst this allowed Mutya and Keisha to truly shine, it also allowed the music to become formulaic. Mutya would take the first verse, Keisha the second, and Heidi was let out of the cage every now and again to sing the final bridge. More than that, Heidi had the nerve to actually smile in interviews and not be difficult. This just made the others look like bitches, causing more infighting and Mutya later admitted that she simply pretended Heidi wasn’t there when she first joined the band.

Miraculously, this line-up survived two more albums, 2003’s Three and 2005’s Taller in More Ways before Mutya Buena called it a day. She claimed that she wanted to spend more time with her baby daughter but within 18 months she had a solo record out. Within a year she was a ‘celebrity’ on UK’s ‘Celebrity Big Brother’, illustrating why you shouldn’t lie to get out of pop groups. She was replaced with Amelle Berrabah, a sexy, rough-around-the-edges girl with similar heritage to Mutya. It soon became apparent that the Sugababes were turning into just another girl band, by being replaceable and relying on their looks and songs other people wrote in order to remain successful. Their 2007 album Change (geddit?) produced only one hit single, ‘About You Now’, written by hit-maker for hire Dr. Luke. Keisha, being the sole original member left, tried to take back control by writing the majority of the sixth album, Catfights and Spotlights without the other two girls, but could not produce a single megahit.

In 2009, their record label decided to outsource the writing and production of the babes’ 7th album Sweet 7 to Roc Nation, Jay Z’s record company. Now the girls had lost all say in their career, causing even more fractions to form within the destabilising pop group. Amelle started skipping gigs and eventually forced their managers to pick between herself and Keisha. Hmmm… the difficult sole original or the pliable, gracious newcomer? Clearly a hard choice. Keisha was booted out and replaced with Eurovision starlet Jade Ewen. To quote a current cultural fad, this is 50 shades of just wrong.

Fast forward three years, the Sugababes are without a record contract and are on “hiatus” until the “time is right” to release their eighth album. Sure. The good news is that the three original members have reformed under the new name Mutya Keisha Siobhan. Crap name, but they’re working on material with some of the best in the industry, including Xenomania, Emeli Sande and Cameron McVey, who helped pen ‘Overload’. Whilst no material has been released yet, NME writer and webmaster of the PopJustice website reports that it is “officially not shit”, which in PopJustice terms means “life-changing, epic pop music”.

The girls are now in their mid-late 20s, reasonably attractive without being supermodels, and all have had unsuccessful solo careers. This again separates them from most of the other girl groups around, a promising start to a career that will hopefully last more than one album and, thanks to that hideous name, not go through any line up changes. With the pop music world again looking formulaic, wholesome and bland thanks to the likes of Bieber and David Guetta, we again must look to these three girls to save the pop universe from itself.

Don’t fuck it up.

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Acid Flashbacks #2: DJ Shadow, Endtroducing…

Postmodernism is the movement-de-jour – we live in a world with an unprecedented level of interconnectivity and a newfound ability to access the vast and previously-impenetrable vaults of history in a single click. Google, Facebook, Twitter – welcome to the internet age, where even the most obscure details of this world are captured and forever stored on a hard-drive somewhere. The age-old concept of sampling and the way in which the conversation about it has changed in kind, too – symptomatic of this day and age. Sampling can be delineated into two categories: like artists and writers who play with existing conventions and reappropriate them into something entirely fresh and visionary, the clever use of a cheeky sample can work both as a reference to the past which plays such a role in informing our current state of affairs – or sampling can be viewed as a cheap shot, a way to capitalise on somebody else’s work without having to put in the hard yards.

Ages ago, FACT Magazine did a phenomenal writeup on the ethical issues that surround sampling, in the context of Diplo’s ripping off Master-D in a collaborative track with Azealia Banks.

Of course, there’s a long history of affluent white Western audiences repackaging music to remove any traces of “blackness”, “foreignness” or whatever else happens to make them uncomfortable. In the context of the “global ghetto”, this practice takes on unpleasant connotations of neo-colonialism: successive scenes, generally in third world countries, former colonies or the poorer regions of the Western world, are plundered for inspiration, providing fuel for the kind of main room-friendly club sets that homogenise their diverse sources into a caricatured, trans-genre mulch. In short, there’s a fine line between championing a scene and appropriating its creative dynamism for your own ends. And when it’s a blonde, musclebound white dude behind the decks at enormous festivals while the music’s producers get dubious, retrospective co-production credits, it’s certainly tempting to fall on one side rather than the other.

Such a discussion reminds me of the trappings of cultural appropriation – the adoption of specific elements of a certain culture by other, more dominant cultural groups. Which sounds relatively benign, if you take that paragraph at face value, I suppose – but the dangers of cultural appropriation are in the ignorance of context and the ensuing bastardisation of a culture that is entrenched in the identity of a group of people by the privileged in an attempt to seem hip and trendy, down with the streets or whatever. You know those dipshits who come back from their holiday from India or Thailand with a tattoo in Hindi or Thai that they don’t actually understand the meaning of and preaching vague bullshit about spiritual enlightenment? Yeah, barf. (Refer to this great discussion on Jezabel on why cultural appropriation is shit. It’s both a laugh and thoroughly worth the space in your brain.)

I feel like sampling can be viewed through the same lens – that it can be a particularly problematic technique to employ if you’re not paying careful attention to contextual matters. And yet, I wouldn’t go so far as to claim that “sampling is always appropriation, always theft”, because there’s a way to go about it that respects your source sample and acknowledges its place in music – but there’s a difference between paying tribute or bringing a little-known piece of work to the forefront of conversations about music, and taking advantage of it for your own ends.

This is where DJ Shadow – Bay Area-based DJ and producer Joshua Paul Davis – comes in. A hip hop head to the end and a crate-digging obsessive, Davis grew up thoroughly immersed in the world of music. To say there are elements of appropriation in his 1996 debut LP Endtroducing would be an understatement – it’s in the Guinness Book of Records for being the first album to be constructed entirely from samples of other people’s music. Which, if you haven’t listened to it, might sound like an accusation of unoriginality – and yet, once you do, you can see why it’s still lauded to this day as a completely original and visionary piece of work.

A trip hop masterpiece built from carefully-extracted vocal samples, licks of guitar and fuzzy instrumental phrases, heavy-hitting beats and gratifyingly obscure spoken-word passages thrown together with an AKAI MPC60 12-bit sampling drum machine, a pair of turntables and a copy of Pro Tools borrowed from longtime friend Dan the Automator, Endtroducing reads like a love letter to the world of music. Shadow’s love of taking parts from records that were released in the sixties and seventies and beyond, and reworking them in a completely new context doesn’t feel like stealing, because there’s a definite sense of him attempting to pay tribute to his love of music in general.

From Pitchfork:

In the documentary Scratch, Shadow takes us to the record store where he found most of the vinyl used on Endtroducing. Upstairs we see the regular shelves and bins, but downstairs, in the basement, are tens of thousands of old albums stacked or dumped all over the room, barely lit by a few light bulbs and littered with dust and dead bats. Shadow patronized the store for five years before they let him in this crypt, and as he says in the documentary, “Just being in here is a humbling experience for me, because you’re looking through all these records and it’s sort of like a big pile of broken dreams…Whether you want to admit it or not, 10 years down the line you’ll be in here. So keep that in mind when you start thinking like, ‘I’m invincible and I’m the world’s best,’ or whatever. Because that’s what all these cats thought.”

There are other numerous interviews with him, and a slew of essays and books as well, in which he talks about the endless days in record shops digging through old, dusty crates of vinyl looking over these old, forgotten pieces of magic and to him, Endtroducing was an attempt to give these new life. Every single little detail that forms this crucial album (even the most inconsequential) is polished-up and rendered entirely fresh and new without its original context being shredded to bits with the disrespect of youngsters in electronic music attempting to capitalise on the work of others with no care for the original artists.

Every single piece of music he’s borrowed from others has been recontextualised and reborn, yet done with a level of respect and reverence for its original sources in an attempt to do them justice and demonstrate the power of music to move others, years and years on after its release and eventual disappearance into the void. Shadow’s humbleness and utmost respect for his elders within music, both in hip hop and beyond is unquestionable – trust me on this. Go find yourself a copy on vinyl. From the washes of choir voices and echoing keys of Building Steam With a Grain of Salt to Changeling’s broken beats and the inimitable sound of vinyl crackle-ridden horns and instrumentals, Endtroducing is an exercise in both nostalgia as well as a thoroughly groundbreaking work in music.

It is this curious contradiction in terms that makes Endtroducing the eternally-enduring record that it is – one that’s still held up today as the birth of instrumental hip hop.

Fifteen Minutes of Fame: 2012 (So Far) in Review

Hello!

My name’s Bill Murphy. I’m the other music director this year at Radio Monash. Apologies about the radio silence from me this year, I’ve been really busy. As it turns out, third year is hard.

Normally, I like to listen to music and review it for this website. However, whilst I haven’t been able to review things, I haven’t stopped listening to music. Now that I have some spare time up my sleeve, anything that I actually want to review is old as balls.

So for those of you, who have been a bit behind on things this year, here’s a brief TL;DR summary of fifteen releases I’ve either enjoyed or absolutely loathed, just to catch you and me up.

Sleigh Bells – Reign of Terror
Reign of Terror
Mr. Miller and Ms. Krauss, what you’ve just made is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your turn the volume up to 14, turn the songwriting down to -2 album were you even close to anything that could be considered a good song. Everyone who bought this is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

0/10

The Big Pink – Future This
Future This
English synth-rockers hit the second album speed-bump, lose steering joint, tire falls off, and have to wait three hours for a tow-truck. After first album full of stadium-sized anthems, they miss the bar, hitting every cheesy 80’s cliché along the way. Avoid.

1/10

Spiritualized – Sweet Heart, Sweet Light
Sweet Heart, Sweet Light
Jason Pierce overcomes degenerative liver condition, writes sprawling, glorious pop anthem riddled album, and makes reviewer cry.
AOTY.

10/10

Pulled Apart By Horses – Tough Love

PABH are one of the best rock bands going around today. Whilst their first album was a raw, adrenaline-packed thrill ride that made you want to throw furniture around the room, their second album is about 80% as balls-to-the-wall, but shows a bit of refinement which will make sure their sound doesn’t grow immediately tired. Anyway, 80% of 10 is still…

8/10

Lana Del Rey – Born To Die

Stunning Americana meets trip-hop production, let down by the fact Lana Del Rey is fucking boring.

3/10

Of Montreal – Paralytic Stalks

Of Montreal with a serious face on. Not as horrible as that sentence made it sound, but not as fun as other Of Montreal records.

4/10

Pepe Deluxé – Queen of the Wave

Swedish sample-pop group throw everything against the wall to see what sticks. The problem is that everything did. Whilst some tracks are utterly magnificent and leave the listener with a “What the hell did I just hear and why was it so amazing?” feeling, the album itself could’ve benefited from a bit more restraint.

5/10

Death Grips – The Money Store

Angry skate-punk rappers find themselves on major label; are angry. The Money Store is an excellent album you could throw chairs around to. Don’t try to read too deeply into it, though.

9/10

Lil B – God’s Father/The Basedprint/Trapped in Basedworld

#TYBG
Seriously, it’s like Christmas every 3-5 weeks with Lil B dropping another mixtape. He has 1500 songs recorded according to Wikipedia. Just sit back and think about how big that number actually is. The Basedprint gets the nod over the other two latest (He’s really only started to hit his stride recently), because Basedprint has better production than TiB and God’s Father is just too long to listen to in one sitting.

5/7/6/10

Kindness – World, You Need a Change of Mind

Kindness makes a carefully restrained synth pop/disco. Unfortunately, the music itself is flawless, but it’s not an album you can really fall in love with or even dance to, it’s more just background music for when you’re doing the dishes. Keep an eye out for future releases though, he’s got an ear for arrangements.

6/10

Hermitude – HyperParadise

Australian hip-hop duo make sweet house/chillwave/latin/jungle-influenced beats. They don’t have anyone rap over the top of it, opting for actual singing (occasionally) and huge melodies, thus not ruining how good their beats are. Now if only the rest of Australian hip-hop could follow this example.

9/10

Howler – America Give Up

The low-fi surfish garage pop movement that’s going on is for the most part, dreadful. Howler are one of the few not terrible bands to stand out from the genre, based on a very promising debut album. Makes Nathan Williams look like the joke he is.

8/10

Grimes – Oblivion

Once you get past the fact that she labelled her music’post-Internet’, Grimes’ album has a lot to offer. It’s a more accessible version of Fever Ray’s album containing what could actually be construed as ‘Radio-friendly’ songs. A really good listen is both upbeat and downbeat moods.

9/10

I look forward to actually writing proper reviews for you all next semester. Maybe even a blog too.

Memoryhouse

Memoryhouse – The Slideshow Effect

For those not familiar with this particular Canadian female duo, Memoryhouse have followed their 2010 EP The Past with a full length album: The Slideshow Effect. Released through Sub Pop (who also brought you Nirvana’s Bleach), this a laid-back and endearing selection of tunes that whilst not being overtly catchy, will soothe a weathered soul. This album plays like a pair of comfy old shoes: easy to get into and after a while you forget they’re even on.

The album opens with a tight a capella harmony which despite being a lesson in autotune, drags the listener in like Sirens from the Odyssey. From here we’re gently rocked along by the light-hearted driving songs such as ‘The Kids Were Wrong’ and ‘Walk With Me’, then carefully put to sleep by ‘Punctum’ and ‘Old Haunts’. If Chris Martin and Dido had a baby and Zooey Deschanel sang it to sleep, it would be Memoryhouse.

The ethereal nature of this album is an asset and provides sweet relief from the current glut of production-line-post-shoegazer-pop-rock, by private school kids who aren’t old enough to remember when Ray Bans went out of fashion. The Slideshow Effect offers aurally delicious tracks such as ‘All Our Wonder’ that will met your afternoon like caramel. If vegetable juice fails to ease a sore head on a particularly difficult Saturday-morning-after, try this album.

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Interview: Underground Lovers

As the name of their band suggests, Underground Lovers are an enduring presence on the Australian music scene – possibly not always visible, but always there, hidden away and ready to emerge. Frequently described as a bridge between late-eighties electronica as well as more traditional rock, their role in helping to break down the barriers between the two has guaranteed them an enduring place in Australian music history – cemented by the numerous awards they’ve scooped up during their time together. An ARIA award, Triple J Hottest 100 slots, Australian Rolling Stone’s album of the year. An extended absence from the music industry began in the late nineties and ended with a reemergence in 2009, and the group haven’t stopped since – playing all across Australia and beyond, releasing a best-of compliation and getting ready to release a new record. No better time, then, to get on the phone to singer and instrumentalist Vincent Giarrussio, to provide us with an update on what Underground Lovers have been up to since.

Giarrusio kindly provides a brief overview of the last ten years for us. “Glenn and I started the band and we’ve always been the constant through it – we met at highschool and formed the band at the moment, which was the first incarnation of the band,” he explains. “And then people kind of left to do other stuff, so we had to find other drummers and bass players and stuff. Which we did, but we hoped to start playing again – we hoped to bring all the members back eventually. We’d been playing for ten years and did a lot of touring, put out a few records, and it just got to that point where we needed a break. And we were all branching off into different areas of creative endeavours – we never made a decision, it just sort of happened. And so with coming back together, it was the same sort of thing – we got asked to play a show, and we thought, oh yeah, we will. And that was it, there was no grand plan or anything – it just happens.”

Which they’ve managed to do, welcomed with open arms by Australian fans – making an impressive emergence from an extended hiatus with a string of live shows that began with a glorious return to form with a slot at the revered Homebake Festival in 2009. “It was really good,” he says. “We played a show in Sydney at the Annandale the night before, and that was extraordinary in that we hadn’t played at that venue for a long time, it was a sellout and there were people trying to get in. And it was a very intense show, and all of the shows have been like that – people coming along and being really into it, into the music, and it gets exciting. It’s a great feeling – we haven’t changed, we still play with the same intensity and it’s all about the music – we improvise, we make stuff up in the moment, and we play stuff from the early nineties through to the late nineties, and it all still sounds very fresh to us, and we still get excited by it. We’re playing some new stuff this time, too – some new songs which seem to work well. I love that element of mixing genres – the power and energy of rock music, and the repetition and energy of dance, too. It’s inspiring, it gets your blood going.”

Of course, with a career that extends all the way back to 1990, the group are no strangers to touring with some of the industry’s premier rock and dance acts. Asked about some of their favourite gigs, the list of names that Giarrusso mentions looks more like a roster of the nineties’ biggest acts. “We played with The Cure around Australia, and that was really good – it was great to be part of a really big show and all of the entertainment centres,” he says. “But it also showed us that it can be quite an impersonal process – it sort of becomes something else, and we like that contact with people, we like that one-on-one with fans in smaller venues where there’s more of a personal interaction going on. Having said that, it’s kind of exciting doing big things like that. My Bloody Valentine was a highlight, just because it was only about the music – they were extraordinary live, and the best thing I’ve ever heard. Primal Scream – we played with them a few times, and New Order, we played with them. Australian bands like the Go-Betweens and the Saints, and local bands we love and have played around with – we played in Sydney a few months ago with a band called Underlights, and these young guys were extraordinary – we felt really set off by them, too.”

If you weren’t already familiar with the litany of inspiring material Underground Lovers released during their first incarnation, there’s a new best-of compilation to sink your teeth into, titled Wonderful Things – a title that accurately summarises the wealth of material it contains. It was a difficult project to work on, as Giarrusso explains. “We had a few legal difficulties with some of the tracks – getting the rights back. But putting together the album took awhile, to work out how to do it, how to get songs from all the different albums and make them sound like they were part of one album. We spent a lot of time in the studio mastering tracks so there was an even kind of texture across the whole lot. The opportunity was there to visit some of the older stuff and kind of re-jig it – did a couple of edits and took out some things, too. It was a chance to do that which we thought we’d take on.”

Listening to it, one can’t help but feel that the group have a thoroughly eclectic approach to putting together music – it seems like each track or album takes you in a completely different direction. I point this out to Giarrusso, and he seems to agree. “We always thought of each album as something you’d lose yourself in – that you’d come out of it altered, or feeling different and hopefully, you want to go back into it again and get something different from it each time. We’ve always thought about records in that way. I think it’s a bit different to how you get music these days, with the way people tend to get single tracks a lot of the time. It’s kind of good, as well, though – we’re tackling those issues, those ideas with our new material.”

Music is not Giarrusso’s only creative output – alongside his work with Underground Lovers, he’s put out a collection of lyrics and prose named Rushall Station after one of their albums, as well as his own feature film Mallboy, which ended up doing quite well for itself at the Cannes Film Festival on its release. With such an impressive track record of success in a wide variety of creative disciplines, I wonder whether there are clear boundaries that divide each of his creative outlets, or whether they all blur and cross over into each other. “They do all blur, because they all come out of a writing discipline – I write a lot,” he answers. “So whether it’s writing lyrics, or – I‘m in the middle of a PhD, so I’m writing a thesis, and I’ve got a couple of scripts on the boil, TV stuff. I’m always writing, yeah, so it’s always a writing process – and when you move into production, that’s when the practice changes. It was weird, with Mallboy, I wrote the script and the opportunity came up tio direct it, and I thought, okay, I’ve got to learn how to do it. For me, it always comes out of writing – I work at a university teaching writing, too. It takes different forms, it’s always changing. It always comes from a personal place – I don’t write anything for commercial gain or because I think there’s an audience for it, it always comes out of personal expression.”

Set to play the Northcote Social Club very soon, and the group seem thoroughly enthused by the string of recent dates they’ve played, reimmersing themselves in the thriving live music scene of Melbourne. “We’ve never played the Northcote – it should be fun. This time, these are the last shows we’re doing to promote the Wonderful Things restrospective, but we’re also throwing in some new stuff – so we’ve got some new songs that we’re playing from new recordings that we’ve started doing. We’ve started getting back into the studio – we’ve got about six songs that we’re working on, and we’ve written another ten, so hopefully we’ll have that come out later this year.”

You can catch Underground Lovers when they play the Northcote Social Club on Saturday February 18.

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Attack Decay Sustain Release: Issue 1

They say 2012 will herald the end of the world in December – if that’s true, we better make it a fuckin’ big one, huh? Here’s hoping you all managed to kick off the year in style, whether it was with mates at a houseparty knocking back beers or shaking your arses at one of the many clubs in Melbourne playing host to all manner of international superstars. Personally, I struggled for days after mine – Heavy Innit at Laundry on New Year’s Eve followed up by an all-day affair at Summadayze with the lure of Skream and Benga, Flying Lotus, JPS, Tiga, Pendulum and more proving undeniable. What a weekend!

Hey, before I go on, I’d best introduce myself first. Hi: I’m Miki, and I’m one of two music directors at Radio Monash during 2012, alongside longtime-contributor and show host Bill Murphy. This will be my third year of a Bachelor of Arts double majoring in Criminology and Human Rights Theory, and my third year with the glorious institution that is Radio Monash. I like drinking tea, reading, and the television series Spooks. I’m always first to hit the dancefloor, and my heart beats to the thump of a kick-drum. I really, really like dance music. Bill and I used to run a show called Choose Life together and we used to joke about how our completely contrasting  tastes in music with weird crossovers could cover the whole music industry between us. Well, this year we’re looking to put that to the test in delivering Radio Monash readers with news, reviews and our own unique take on the glorious thing that is the music industry – and I’ll be taking you through the clubbier side of things.

So, what’s been happening? Oh, plenty. Andrew Weatherall, whose fingerprints are all over some of the nineties’ biggest releases as head of the famed Junior Boys Own, including albums by Underworld, the Chemical Brothers and Primal Scream, is slated for a string of shows across the country – no doubt showing off his perpetually-relevant and refined take on the dance music scene in the process.  Check out: his recent remix of fifteen-minute album-closing ‘Sun God‘ from Cut Copy’s Zonoscope, released last year – a sun-drenched throwback to the the sounds of nineties dance. Let’s get ravey: Andrew Weatherall plays New Guernica on January 13.

Daniel Martin-McCormick’s name is many things to different people – whether it’s as part of trip-hop outfit Mi Ami, as lone operative Sex Worker signed to Not Not Fun – or as Ital, his latest guise under his first singles demanded the attention of authorities on house everywhere, including the legendary Planet Mu, on which his debut album Hive Mind is set to be released. Incredible. Ital will be at Buffalo Club on January 25 – get on it!

Not to mention that Big Day Out 2012 is on its way, and with it a few sweet little sideshows to check out. Sample wild child Girl Talk hits the Palace on January 31, followed by Norwegian purveyors of hypercolour disco-pop Royksopp, who’ll have their turn on February 2.

Tickets for Golden Plains Sixxx have officially sold out, as was to be expected from one of Victoria’s most well-loved musical institutions, and with a lineup boasting Bon Iver, Roots Manuva, Seekae and more, who could possibly resist? We’re hoping a number of you have been lucky enough to secure tickets for what will be one of the best weekends of 2012 – and the beats fiends among us would be beyond foolish not to check out what Melbourne’s own defiantly uncategorisable Seekae will have at the ready. Need convincing? I doubt it, but if you do, check out this seriously stunning mix they put together for Beats and Pieces. Yesssssss!

So January’s looking like a pretty good month off uni for us at Radio Monash. In terms of music news, what’s been kicking? A perennial favourite of many a seasoned Radio Monash host, Hotflush Recordings head honcho and man of dubstep, techno and everything in between Scuba (or, to his parents, Paul Rose) has just announced the release of his third studio album titled Personality, set to drop on his own imprint in February. After a hectic but productive year that saw him touring relentlessly on top of releasing EPs Adrenalin (track of the year or what?) and a 12″ under his minimal-techno alias SCB, as well as a deliciously deep DJ-KiCKS compilation, there is no stopping this dude. With a snippet of lead single ‘The Hope’ available on YouTube sounding as deliciously harsh-edged and heavy-hitting as we’ve come to expect from the man, we’re definitely ready to get our hands on the latest Scuba LP.

Speaking of upcoming releases, we hear The xx are planning on dropping their sophomore effort rather soon. Took them long enough, hey! Judging by the sounds of this demo track Open Eyes that’s floating about on YouTube and SoundCloud, we can expect a similarly-mature and refined feel to their debut effort, from one of London’s most multitalented upcoming producers and crew.

A new EP from Burial titled ‘Kindred’ is also slated for release sometime this month. Looks like he’s been busy in the studio these past twelve months – we’ve been loving his collaborative efforts with everyone from Thom Yorke, Four Tet and Massive Attack over the past year, and given the four long years that have elapsed since the release of his last album, the hauntingly perfect Untrue, we’re just gagging to see what the mysterious South Londoner conjures up next.

Summer’s fever’s calling! Welcome to the year in dance – it’s going to be a biiiiiiiiiig one, and I’m sure as hell looking forward to what’s coming.