Category: Reviews

Sierra performing Suburban Fame

Sierra – Suburban Fame

Suburban Fame is the new single from Mount Gambier melodic/post-hardcore outfit Sierra, taken from their upcoming EP Reality Redefined. The music video features beautiful cinematography and the track itself showcases  a much more mature and melodic sound than their previous works.
Oh, and Brett has a beard now, sweet as.

Starting with a series of soft, clean guitar strums with just the right amount of reverb, Suburban Fame quickly kicks off into a mid-paced groove with Brett (vocals) hitting you with a catchy vocal hook and melody.

“Hours at night, set aside, medicate me”

Sierra always stuck out to me in the scene due to their great poetic lyrics, which is sometimes overlooked within the genre. The vocal performance is reminiscent of their earlier work Imagery, yet definitely feels a bit more relaxed, with just the right amount of rasp and grit to pull the emotive angle of the song. Big ups on the vocal melody too, which sits really well with the rest of the track, and keeps the listener interested.

In terms of instrumentation, the song switches from clean, twangy verse sections, to driving smooth distortion, and back again. Dynamically, the song has quite a bit of changes, with the chorus pulling the track up whilst still holding the groove. The guitars work well, dropping in and out and changing textures to keep things interesting.

Kristian (drums) does a great job in holding down the feel of the track, and is tight and deliberate with his fills, not overplaying or underplaying. The highlight of this song for me is definitely the guitar solo at the two and a half minute mark, it almost comes out from nowhere and makes the whole song explode.

The production is clean, crisp and clear, and makes the song enjoyable to listen to again and again.

Overall, Sierra have hit the nail on the head, mixing the right amounts of melodic and post-hardcore elements to create a powerful and driving track. If this is anything to go by, the EP is going to be good.


St Jerome’s Laneway Festival 2014


This is the first in a (hopefully) series of gig/album/festival/night out reviews for you denizens of Radio Monash. We are back in the criticism game. Before we start: yes, I know this is an extremely late review, but we have had some issues with our website we have wanted to sort out before we started uploading new content.

Fuck, I’m going to miss Run the Jewels… a night at the Mercat had left me a broken, hungover man. The fear of missing Killer Mike and EL-P’s performance throws me out of bed and onto a train full of op-shop party shirts, high-waisted jean shorts and tinnies of Koppaberg… there is no doubt where I am going, I am going to Foot-as-grey, for the 11th iteration of St Jerome’s Laneway Festival.

I want to catch Run The Jewels so much I skip my pho, and head straight into the festival towards the gorgeous Red Bull Future classic stage. And let me tell you what, it was the right decision to make. With its focus on individual delivery, hip-hop needs a sense of enthusiasm and energy to come off well – and I have never seen two guys so hyped up to be rapping to a bunch of sweaty white guys at two in the afternoon. Flying through their eponymous album (and announcing a second to come this year), these guys seem to be having the time of their lives, even inviting a rabid fan, Chuckie, onstage giving him his 30 seconds of fame before he couldn’t take the hint to leave and had to be escorted offstage. Chuckie, you are a total flog. Over a tinnie of pale ale, I wonder if they were put on too early, but they set a great mood for the rest of the day.

Rushing up to catch my friend at the Moreland St stage, I catch the end of post-punk revivalist grrrls Savages. The energy and excitement of RTJ is really highlighted by the uninspired act of Patti and Robert Smith’s love children. Maybe it’s the sun, but they just don’t seem into it at all.

For this very Australian weather, we feel somewhat obliged to catch the very Australian band Dick Diver at the amphitheatre of the River Stage (sidenote: the festival setting was pretty on point for all stages except the Dean Turner Stage which felt pretty cramped). They play lovely inoffensive dolewave, providing some sense of escapism to the over-pressured Gen-Y crowd, who presumably would like to be sitting in their underwear smoking bongs in an inner north sharehouse all day rather than working unpaid internships. But all in all an enjoyable set, and personal grumbles aside (Dick Diver distracts Al Mofort from releasing more music with Total Control Or Straightjacket Nation) it’s great to see these guys succeeding.

For more fun fun in the sun sun, we catch the end of Kiwis Unknown Mortal Orchestra. Not much has changed since they were here for Meredith – nice psych-ey jams to roast in the sun to (next year more shade please) with a Cascade Pale Ale in hand (MB’s next year please)

At this point I retire to sit under the bridge with some hot wings (props to Laneway for giving us decent food instead of your usual festival fare) to watch the stream of people attempting to sneak into the festival – the Chinese restaurant back entrance of the past has been replaced with the train line jump. The security kept it mainly under wraps. My highlight of the festival nearly went to seeing the guy who made intense eye contact with the guard for 30 seconds before doing the (short-lived) mad dash.

The brutal sun was the downfall of Mount Kimbie as well, with the sun sucking energy, and providing too harsh of an environment for this reviewer. Shade is found, festival buddies are made – they force me to write ‘too many bitties’ in my notes for the act (miss u Joc). With a set leaning towards more recent material, the crowd lapped it up, collectively losing their proverbial when King Krule came on stage then on top of the crowd, with the energy retaining for a droning, heavy rendition of Fields off their debut album Crooks and Lovers.

Earl Sweatshirt seems to outwardly dislike the audience, with much antagonising but it plays well in part of the Odd Future shtick. His set was mostly a whirlwind of verses from the guest-heavy Doris, with the obligatory Earl from his debut mixtape – setting the crowd off into a total frenzy. He might seem like a prick but goddamnit, this kid can rap. Last sighted Heinekin in hand with some randoms in a Footscray Apartment, living the dream.

Maybe because it was because I had listened to Float On five times in a row in the morning, or maybe it was because he had cracked the shits because of the blown out speakers that shortened his set by around 15 minutes, but there was a vibe that Detroit party boy Danny Brown he just didn’t want to be there, and he was putting on his jester act because he felt obligated to. His set lacked anything from side A of old, disregarding the darker side of his person. But hey, it’s a festival – his party game is strong and you cannot compete with how infectious he is live.

Cue a mad rush back down to catch the ambient rave of Four Tet, which could be summed up in one smiley  :’)

Nobody does an ambient rave like Kieran Hebden and he was a perfect way to finish off the day.

All in all, Laneway was a success – the people putting the festival know what they are doing, they know their audience, so there is well curated grounds, food, drink and lineup. It is possibly the only one day festival where the fact it’s a festival won’t stop me from going.

Review – James Maine

Photography-Aaron Webber

Mad Props: Great food and great drinks. Good festival grounds, great linneup, No Bogans!!!

Pick up your game: Five dollar bottles of water are bullshit, especially on a 36 degree day, some minor sound issue

Would I Return: If there was a good lineup, without a doubt. I was pleasantly surprised by the whole experience.


Singles Review 01/08/12

(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.

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.


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.


Bonobo – Black Sands Remixed

Simon Green’s latest release under the Bonobo moniker, Black Sands Remixed is – as you might have guessed – a rework of his highly successful 2010 album Black Sands, featuring remixes alongside previously unreleased tracks.

As a remix album based directly off his past release, it begs direct comparison – and on this count it fails to live up to its namesake. The original Black Sands album was something you could sit down and listen to from start to finish. Black Sands Remixed on the other hand does not have the flow and continuity that made the original such a listening pleasure. You might find yourself skipping over the third ‘Eyesdown’ remix in a row, or perhaps jarring a little bit after hearing the frantic beat on the Machinedrum remix of ‘Eyesdown’ following the extremely chilled out remix of ‘Stay the Same’.

However, when you consider the album as a collection of individual songs rather than a play-through experience, the album stands up better. The Banks remix of ‘The Keeper’ has proved extremely popular; peaking at number 6 on Hype Machine’s charts, and in your reviewer’s humble opinion is in fact superior to the original, which is something not many remixes can boast. Lapalux’s reinterpretation of the intro track ‘Prelude’ also breathes new life to the original by completely rearranging it to the point where it’s almost unrecognisable with a hauntingly beautiful result. Green’s own contributions, ‘Ghost Ship’ and ‘Brace Brace’ are highlights of the album. The latter, ‘Brace Brace’, really illustrates his skill at creating delicate, interesting instrumental music.

All in all, the album holds its own but perhaps lives somewhat in the shadow of the original album. A large portion of the tracks are repeated – of the 14 tracks, over a third are double-ups – but some stand out remixes and the two original songs help to make this a solid release.


Speech Debelle – Freedom of Speech

Potential: that’s the word that came to mind when listening to Freedom of Speech. As a follow up to her award winning album of 2009, Speech Debelle has brought an interesting mix of tracks on this release that are sure to raise some eyebrows – particularly on the faces of anyone who expected this to be a hip-hop release.

The four-minute opening track ‘Studio Back Pack Rap’ opens with a machinegun style a capella that excitedly rolls into a ‘Shake Your Rump’-style drum break into a modest verse. This allows the chorus to stand out as a bouncy tongue-twisting party anthem. At two minutes I’d had a bit of fun, but it was really time for a fade out. Instead the song presses on and elects to persevere with a beat I’m fairly sure was sampled from Bloodhound Gang’s ‘The Bad Touch’.

There are things Speech Debelle does that I really like, but unfortunately others I simply don’t understand. ‘Blaze up a Fire’ has a pleasant Amy Winehouse swing in the beat, over which Debelle does her thing providing staccato rhyming punctuated with trademark attitude here and there.  But rightly or wrongly, it reminded me of Crazy Town’s ‘Butterfly’ so I struggled with it.

‘Freedom of Speech’ has a solid, emotive orchestral beat akin to The Streets’ ‘It’s Too Late’ and it was enough to keep me going for the full 4 minutes. “X Marks the Spot” is the second shortest song on the album (at 3.49) and is by all accounts a break up song, but is lyrically infantile and clunky. This is starkly contrasted with the very next track ‘Angel Wings’ which is a beacon of light on this album, boasting emotive lyrics such as the repeated line “I ain’t afraid of flying” and a determination similar to Eminem’s tracks such as ‘Not Afraid’ (ironically).

The longest track on the album ‘Sun Dog’ is an epic seven minutes, but worth every second. A military snare helps it build wonderfully and it could easily be the soundtrack to a short film. More Karen O meets Tegan and Sara than cheeky Brit hip-hop, Debelle’s lyrics are well paced with the cut-back beat and the atmospheric production is – perhaps for the first time on this album – ideal.

So, like I said – potential. Freedom of Speech had the potential to be a powerful Brit-hop force for 2012, but I’m not sure that it will be. It certainly has some grand moments and if you’re looking for some brooding, angst-ridden tracks, you’ll potentially get a lot out of this album. But it’s not something I’d listen to in good weather and it’s certainly not going to psych you up for that next job interview.


Toro Y Moi / Washed Out (09/02/12)

Remember that guy you used to jam with in high school? Still see him all that much? Yeah, me neither. Chaz Bundick and Ernest Greene (aka Toro Y Moi and Washed Out), on the other hand, have been friends since high school in Columbia, South Carolina, and this has continued to the point where not only are they touring the same festival, but playing joint sideshows. Strange? Perhaps, but it means that the punters get massive bang for not much buck, which in a society that demands value, I suppose can’t be a bad thing.

As it was, we trouped down to the Hi-Fi a few days after Laneway, with sufficient ciders under our belts and an optimistic view of the future, and joined the queue of baby hipsters with similar looks on their faces to ours. Once inside, we fought our way to the middle and set ourselves up behind a couple of guys who weren’t too much taller than us – which was the best we were going to get in the situation.

Washed Out, with a full (and attractive) backing band, raised the ethereal-meter to 11, with a swelling, euphoric set that made me wonder whether there wasn’t in fact a small measure of acid in the ciders from earlier. The crowd began to sway, to the point you could be forgiven for thinking that a reasonably strong breeze had somehow made it down the stairs into the Hi-Fi dungeon, and all seemed right in the world.

After Washed Out left the stage and we took a quick toilet break, it was time for the confused-sounding Toro Y Moi (Is it French? Spanish? Frenish? Spinach?) to take the stage. And the stage was indeed taken. Bundick and band managed to have the entire room jumping around with abandon. It takes something pretty special to be able to do that without any special lighting or effects – they simply did what they did, without the aid of anything but their amplifiers. The only drawback from the whole thing was Bundick’s suggestion towards the end that they may not return for a while now – I can only hope he was lying (or that someone makes him an offer he’d be stupid to refuse).

Overall, though, the two acts were superb. We walked out elated, exhausted, and completely satisfied, and I’m looking up that guy I used to jam with on Facebook as we speak.


Islands – A Sleep And A Forgetting

Gather ‘round, yon children, and let me regale you with a tale about a wonderful man from the magical far-away kingdom of Canada. There was once a man named Nick Diamonds, and many, many years ago, he fronted a band called The Unicorns. Mr Diamonds and his friends made wondrous noises together. Sometimes it was silly, sometimes it was strangely haunting, but the beautiful lo-fi pop made all the little indie children from all the lands smile their biggest smiles.

Sadly, all good things must come to an end. Mr Diamonds soon said goodbye to his friends, and started a new band, Islands. Friends both old and new joined Mr Diamonds as he made three very nice long-playing discs filled with indie music spanning all styles and sub-genres, packaged them up and sent them off to distant shores, creating more happy faces.

Life was good for Mr Diamonds. He was doing something that he truly enjoyed, and that people loved. But once again, all good things must come to an end. One day, Mr Diamonds found himself in a messy breakup with his partner. He got lost. He ran away. And when he eventually got his head around the situation, he sat down at a piano in la-la-land and continued doing what he does best – create music.

A Sleep And A Forgetting is the culmination of those efforts. And Nick Diamonds – or Nick Thorburn to his parents – has clearly made an effort to press a small piece of his heart and his soul into each disc. Stripped of his usual genre-flipping style and decidedly emotional, Diamonds writes openly about his broken heart and damaged dreams – the opening lyrics to ‘Can’t Feel My Face’ capture the mood and themes of the album perfectly. I miss my wife / I miss my best friend / Every night / I miss my home / I miss my own bed / And my old life.

With this in mind, it’s very easy to see why A Sleep is Diamonds’ most cohesive work to date. Sadly however, this cohesiveness is a detriment. The entire album pushes through unchallenging, piano-driven indie pop as Diamonds relentlessly purges his soul, and while you undoubtedly feel for the guy and understand his motivations, it does not make for particularly enjoyable listening. Take, for example, the first single and perhaps the most upbeat track from the album, ‘Hallways’. Written about time spent waiting in transitional spaces and seeing the simplest changes and the grandest of highlights, the track offers a perfect analogy for the entire LP. Most of the listening experience is spent waiting for something to change, something like a change of theme or tact or scenery – something that never seems to arrive.

Diamonds pulled the title of A Sleep And A Forgetting from a short story written by Science Fiction writer Orson Scott Card about complete amnesia and personal displacement. Perhaps he was trying to reflect his dislocation and desire to forget. Instead, A Sleep And A Forgetting is exactly how the label describes; an album of forgettable tracks that renders the listener liable to doze off – the album seems to operate as some sort of bedtime storybook. Nick Diamonds may be moving into a new stage of his life, but for his sake and the sake of his fans, I sincerely hope that he can move back into his best, most eclectic work, and seal a happy ending.


Acid Flashbacks #1: Underworld, dubnobasswithmyheadman

The phenomenon of the ‘acid flashback’ – defined by Wikipedia as an episode in which “an individual experiences… some of LSD’s subjective effects long after the drug has worn off, usually in the days after typical doses” – is, scientifically, an unproven theory. I suspect that the panic attacks I now endure every time I catch a snippet of ‘WARP’ by the Bloody Beetroots and Steve Aoki would indicate otherwise, but I digress. Acid Flashbacks is the latest in a series of columns we’ll be publishing on Radio Monash, in which we’ll be looking back at some of the most seminal albums released in music’s history. Each week, we’ll be featuring one of our favourite albums, released a minimum of five years ago, which have had a significant impact on our consciousnesses.

This is our first issue, and I figured: in light of their recent twenty-year anniversary and the announcement that they had been asked to take on the role of Music Directors at the London 2012 Olympic Games in late July, who better to feature than seminal English techno favourites, Underworld, and their first proper album (most self-respecting fans like to pretend Underneath the Radar never happened), 1994’s dubnobasswithmyheadman? Damn right there isn’t anybody else.

Let’s set the context from which this record emerged: It’s 1994, and the sounds of Detroit’s techno scene are slowly migrating to London’s dance music scene, slowly but steadily building a following in the smoky, darkened clubs of the city. Underworld have almost thrown in the towel, having achieved little mainstream success with their attempts at becoming famous pop stars. Discouraged and in need of a new means to express their creative urges, Smith recruited the talents of an up-and-coming DJ friend, Darren Emerson, to provide them with advice and insight on taking them in a new direction.

The resulting record, dubnobasswithmyheadman, feels like a fitting place to begin examining the trajectory of Underworld’s career. It is, after all, the album that launched them into the mainstream zeitgeist of dance music, a fusion of the hypnotic beats of techno and Karl Hyde’s stunningly unique urban poetry. Even the cover of the record – rendered in black and white, a haphazard collage of half-finished, unspoken thoughts sets a precedent for the kind of immersive musical world that the duo have constructed, a distinctively urban record with echoes of obliquely-expressed sentiment. A recent interview with Karl Hyde by the Quietus presents an illuminating account of how the manner in which dubnobasswithmyheadman’s abstract narratives were formed:

“It was a pact – a deal – I’d send the drunk me out on the streets to experience stuff that the straight me would never dream of going anywhere near. And all this technicolour stuff came back. I started to be interested in snap shot photography. Using ten quid cameras but shooting from the hip. Literally, like a drunk would – because I was a drunk – put the camera on flash and just wander the back streets of Soho night after night. And so these things started to work. They pulled together note books which were walks through cities. And then when Rick came up with a piece that inspired me I’d look through the books and start putting my fingers in the pages and flicking them back and forth. I’d improvise and head off on a journey with the music.”

Deep shit, man. It’s from those dazed, alcohol-soaked walks that the expansive soundscapes of tracks like ‘Mmm Skyscraper I Love You’ and ‘Dark and Long’ were formed, later giving birth to 1996’s anthemic ‘Born Slippy.NUXX’, as heard in cult classic Trainspotting’s final moments. Thirty thousand feet above the earth – it’s a beautiful thing, and you’re a beautiful thing, murmurs Karl Hyde on the former, his lyrics swept up in the sounds of a throbbing baseline and a kick drum that thumps on as steadily as a heartbeat. Slowing down for the middle of the album, before climaxing in the nihilistic yet almost euphoric ten-minute ‘Dirty Epic’, then segueing straight into the electric ‘Cowgirl’ – it’s this merging of the decidedly cold, remote soundscapes of dance music with the more human warmth of rock music’s guitars and lyricism that dubnobasswithmyheadman’s mainstream success can be attributed to – as evidenced by Melody Maker’s insistence on referring to it as “the most important album since the Stone Roses and the best since Screamadelica… the one single record that saw audiences and critics switch allegiances from guitar bands to more ‘progressive’ outfits”.

Sit down one rainy evening with dubnobasswithmyheadman on the stereo, or go wander through the darkened alleyways of Melbourne’s streets with this on your iPod – Hyde’s narratives and references to city streets and machinery, late evenings and elusive lovers combined with Smith and Emerson’s outstanding production values make for a captivating experience. Go on: get your kicks on channel six with Underworld.

le voyage

Air – La Voyage Dans La Lune

In 1902, French director Georges Méliès released what was, at that time, one of the finest spectacles ever committed to film. Le Vogage dans la Lune, a film occasionally labelled as the first film blockbuster, follows the science fiction vein of H.G. Wells and Jules Verne as it tells the story of a handful of brave adventurers who visit and return from the moon, beset with the style and grace of the Belle Époque and the Victorian Era.

Fast forward an astounding 110 years, and after 11 years of mind-numbing restoration, a fully restored, hand coloured version of the film has been released – with the backing of an entirely new soundtrack composed by French electronica duo Air, spawning the first “album” from the band since 2009.

Weighing in at just over half and hour long with the addition of tracks not included in the film, the album is not the first foray into film scores for Nicolas Godin and Jean-Benoit Dunckel. Air’s sophomore album was the downtempo soundtrack to the Sofia Coppola film The Virgin Suicides in 2000 – which included the hit Playground Love and was very well received.

Unfortunately though, La Voyage Dans La Lune doesn’t contain a track capable of reaching similar heights. The first single, Seven Stars, demonstrates a valiant attempt to capture the true essence of the film. Featuring husky vocals from Victoria Legrand of Beach House, a military-style opening and synths befitting the film, it combines futurism with mysticism and grittiness – wonderful in its own right, but not the kind of track to please a general public.

The playful Parade is the duo reflecting some of their former best, but I’m sure that fans would agree that the track is simply stale Air. Who Am I Now?, featuring Au Revoir Simone, wants to offer existential seasickness, but can barely muster even the most basic feeling of unease. Other tracks feel interstitial; biding time while never truly broaching the themes of the film nor comfortably consolidating the album into a cohesive work. In truth, it creates an album that feels like a small flotilla of ideas engulfed in a sea of beige.

La Voyage Dans La Lune is not a complete failure without artistic merit – when complimented with the visuals of the film, Air’s soundtrack is a wonderful and truly unique experience. As a stand-alone album however, it suffers the same affliction as any other commercially-released movie soundtrack – dull, forgettable, and difficult to justify as an addition to your music collection.


Laneway Festival (04/02/2012)

Strolling down for another day at the Footscray Community Arts Centre, it’s a beautiful day to be spending at ‘that bloody hipster festival’ A.K.A. Laneway Festival. Despite not being in the laneway that it’s name sprang from, the festival grows from strength to strength each year, this year promising more of the same.

First up are Tinpan Orange, with an absolutely lovely brand of folk, but it’s too hot at the carpark so the decision is made to get some shade and just enjoy the lovely background music. After a quick inspection of the market stalls, which only really have op-shop-esque vintage gear, at five times the price of an actual op-shop, it’s time to catch more bands.

DZ Deathrays rule. Let that never be denied, ever. They play a ripper set, blasting through first single from their debut album, No Sleep, as well as classics Gebbie Street, House Party and Cops/Capacity. The only problems were the heat of the stage caused some electrical problems during the opener, and that the crowd was the least responsive bunch of hipsters I’ve ever seen. (Not helped by the horrible set-time of 12:40, in 27 degree heat, who thought that was a good idea?)

EMA has probably received a phone call from the 90’s at some point, they’d like their reverb back. She’d better not give it back, as she was a standout. Accompanied by a band who steals the title of most musical I.T. department from Hot Chip quite easily, her set covered nearly all of her brilliant debut, The Grey Ship being the early highlight of the day. Unfortunately, she was also a victim of the crowd that were just too cool to get into it. WHAT IS WRONG WITH THE KIDS THESE DAYS?

Givers had no such problem with getting the crowd into it. Their brand of MPP-era Animal Collective/Vampire Weekend pop had the front row jumping about like nobody’s business. They were genuinely happy to have made it down and apart from having one of their stacks of speakers drop out mid-set, they put on a very good value entertainment.

The Active Child/Laura Marling clash had a lot of people gnashing their teeth and wailing to the heavens, “O Lord, Why have thou forsaken me?”, but on the day, the choice was a lot easier. Active Child, whilst having a very beautiful aesthetic on record, the aesthetic doesn’t translate well live and comes across as slightly dull. Laura Marling is all class, her warm brand of folk making for lovely listening.

Wandering back down to catch Portugal. The Man with friends, I ask if anyone actually knows much about them. “Not really,” was the consensus. By the end of the set, we were all impressed, witnessing a veteran-like performance of psychedelic rock and roll. The Laneway booklet says they’ve done over 800 shows and with such anthemic hits like Got It All, there’s no chance they’ll be slowing down anytime.

Cults were really, really bad. The mixing was all wrong, Madeline Follin wasn’t hitting any notes and it just seemed really dull. After they opened with Abducted and The Curse, I’d had enough and decided to get some dumplings. I sat side of stage whilst trying to eat a Vietnamese salad and rice with chopsticks (I’m really glad nobody I knew saw me trying to do that) and listened to Anna Calvi for three songs, who, whilst not to my personal taste, wasn’t incredibly boring like Cults, actually showing the calibre of how you should be playing live on your debut Australian tour. Also, Calvi knew how to shred. Awesome.

Wandering back up to the Dean Turner stage, the warmth of Feist’s How Come You Never Go There, her experience of playing live compared to a lot of the buzz bands on this year’s line-up shows, playing an up-tempo set of just great songs. With Comfort Me and The Bad In Each Other standing admirably against older songs like Mushaboom and I Feel It All, Feist is a lovely addition before the party to come.

After accidentally getting to the front of stage after Feist, The Horrors came on stage to rapturous applause. Primary Colours was my Year 12/first year of university album and I missed them on their last tour because I screwed around on getting tickets, so there was no way I was missing them this time. To my ecstatic delight, they did not disappoint, showing why they’re quickly becoming a lot of people’s favourite british band, nailing a best-of Primary Colours/Skying set. Mirror’s Image, Scarlet Fields and a 14 minute Moving Further away were all utterly mind-blowing.

I had seen M83 live at the Prince Bandroom the night before and was telling anyone who would listen to go see them today. They actually improved at Laneway, the few minor sound issues they had being fixed. The transcendent set was a master class in how to headline a festival, with Intro, Reunion, Kim & Jessie, Steve McQueen and Year One, One UFO all totally amazing. Sitting and Couleurs were the highlights of the festival, turning a 2000-strong crowd who were just too cool to care earlier in the day into a raving mass of people who just wanted to lose it all and not care. Marvellous.

This year’s Laneway wasn’t quite as strong as the past couple, but it was still more than worth the price of admission. If Laneway is still regarded as “that hipster festival” for as long as it lives, then long live the FCAC as the home of the hipsters. As long as Laneway festival continues to be over-18 and continues to aim for the best bands, not just the biggest, then it will continue to be the understated highlight on the summer festival schedule.


Tex Perkins at the Prince Bandroom 19th of August

When a new band rears its head, the first thing you’ll hear asked, often unfairly, is “Who do they sound like”? In the case of Tex Perkins and the Band of Gold (or, let’s face it, anything Perkins has done over the past decade) this is completely unneccessary. If you haven’t been hiding under an enormous rock then nobody needs to tell you that he’s gradually metamorphosing into the late Johnny Cash. The Band of Gold don’t disappoint. After touring the prison system with a series of Cash cover gigs the Tennessee Four have joined Tex once again, and Friday’s gig at the Prince bandroom was proof that they’ve done nothing but improve.

After a not-too-shabby set by the gorgeous Angie Hart (don’t pretend you don’t remember Frente!) and Blood Red Bird, Perkins humbly took to the stage and showed us what country is really SUPPOSED TO BE all about. Shunning his guitar for most of the night, Tex was joined by Rachael Tidd (June Carter?) in a magnificent series of duets before picking up his acoustic to finish off the set.

With the crowd responding almost reverently throughout most of the set, it’d be hard to say many were surprised;there was definitely an atmosphere of awe, with only one or two people doing anything other than cheer at the end of each song and stand almost dumbstruck while the band played.

The sound was perfect as Tex put his own stamp on classics by Guy Clark, Kris Kristofferson and Merle Haggard to name a few, and although there was almost a kind of surrealness in hearing country played at the Prince it was definitely pulled off with the usual Perkins flair. Just buy the album. Seriously. Why are you still reading?

Daniel Harrison