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Here is a taste of the title track from Manchester Orchestra’s pending release (10th May):

Foo Fighters are back and at it again. Not sure what to make of this track, but no doubt this will be another solid output from a veteran group.

So you have most likely heard this by now, unless you have been trapped under a rock for the past 3 weeks. The new album “Angles” is due for release on the 22nd of this month.

The Wombats are definitely headed in a new direction with the new tracks that they have put out in the build up to their new album. “Jump into the Fog” is a little darker and slower from what we are used to from the ‘Bats, my first listen asked more questions than it answered. The intensity is not the same as it was with “A Guide to Love, Loss & Desperation” and the backing vocals that provided such great harmonies are non-existant. I have a feeling that this album will definitely split the fan-base.

The night got off to an auspicious start as Ben had the first shout at the Cooper Hotel on King St and returned to the table with little change out a $20 for 2 beers. Needless to say that he chose not to tip, much to my amusement. We finally arrived a little late, just in time to see the end of the support act, Ed Kuepper (industry veteran and part-time Bad Seed). Playing solo with just a guitar and an amp, he seemed to have maintained the attention of a mature age crowd which was to be expected, which pleasantly reminded me that my 20s are not quite over yet.

During the break, I took the opportunity to check out the merchandise. Prior to arriving at the dilapidated Enmore, I had told Ben that I was getting some merch, no matter what. Well I guess “what” happened because I was less that inspired by the quality of what was on offer. This seems to be a reoccurring trend of late, especially when I am casually considered to be somewhat of a merch whore. I hoped that someone might have discovered inspiration from the album cover of “Grinderman 2” which really met the feel of the music. Which is where the set got going with a howl, my favourite of late in “Mickey Mouse and the Goodnight Man”.

The first thing that was evident when Grinderman took to the stage, (aka. Nick Cave and the Kelly Gang) was the big sound that they had brought with them, in meat terms it was a 2 inch thick steak. As I write this on Sunday morning after a Friday night concert, I still feel as though I am surrounded by cicadas and after discussing with the others after the gig, it was apparent that I wasn’t the only person feeling the after effects.

“When My Baby Comes”  gave a seemingly endless feel. This song which was one that confused me to a degree on the album, it came into its own when being played live. It was tracks like this that gave the concert a studio session type vibe. “Kitchenette” was clearly the star of the night as Cave poured emotion all over the front row as the song ebbed and flowed, screaming “tippy toe” into the crowd at close range.

“Evil” and “Get it on” kept the levels of angst on the stage at record highs, while Tristian enjoyed a salute from the band with “No Pussy Blues” (cheap joke I know, couldn’t help myself). The song arrangement was well put together with, high intensity songs spread far enough apart to allow the audience time to recuperate from the previous assault of powerful vocals.

Later in the set I was quizzed Grinderman or Grizzly Bear? (Who we had caught a few months earlier at the same venue and I had absolutely adored) To which at the time I replied, I wouldn’t want to try to put down either act as both had selling points and were quite different in their approaches. An interested onlooker decided to add their opinion to the brewing pot and announced that Nick Cave had been in the industry for 30 years…….steam slowly started appearing from both of ears and my face turned a shade of Coca Cola red. Despite this, I realised that this was not the time or place for identifying the reasons why that argument was so incredibly invalid and I re-tuned my attention to the band.

The encore came early and went for a solid 20 minutes with a more relaxed portion of the set, if it that is at all possible with the musical ambush which was occurring. This was clearly a well polished performance by a group who have obviously had plenty of time to decide just exactly what they want to deliver in terms of performance and sound. Warren Ellis on guitar, maracas, violin or basically anything else that was required, offered plenty of energy, only to be out enthused by Nick himself who moved about the stage spending much of his time trying get retrieve his hand from the firm grasp of adoring fans and had a great feel for the mob as he slagged off his most recent meal ticket (BDO) on a couple of occasions.

The visual was quite simple,  a large silver backdrop giving a sense of space to the stage with a very rock and roll feel, working as a blank canvas for the band to build on. The sound was big and bold, giving the impression that the vast space was entirely filled and the veteran crew knew exactly how to maximize the impact while controlling the tempo with an endless supply of bass riffs which constantly allowed the rest of the band to experiment and improvise. This was by no means a regular concert, this was an experience of rock and roll as god must have intended. Well worth the $700 worth of missed overtime.


Check this out for concert photos:

Enmore theatre, 28th January 2011

Mickey Mouse and the Goodnight Man
Worm Tamer
Get It On
Heathen Child
When my Baby Comes
Honey Bee
No Pussy Blue
Bellringer Blues

Palaces of Montezuma
When my Love Comes Down
Man in the Moon
Love Bomb

Just checking out CWK’s latest output on youtube which was just released today. Should have a review happening in the next week or so. First impressions are positive. For the JJJ listeners, you might get a reprieve from the constant hip-hop and dance that they are playing lately and enjoy some real music as this was selected as their album of the week.

Ok so time to start with a rant. JJJ’s Hottest 100. Now in this modern era who would have thought that tallying an online poll however large would be so demanding? Obviously it was for the J’s as I missed out on voting due to my own disorganisation and a bizarre cut off date for voting like a week before the count, ABC budgeting must be getting tight.

Here is my list of top 5 tracks and songs for 2010, which I doubt that the new wave of JJJ listeners will pick more than 2 in the hottest 100:

*Grinderman – Mickey Mouse and the Goodbye Man (WINNA)
I love the way that Nick Cave just doesn’t care about whether a lyric fits or not, he just makes it happen “Hey man I ya think it might be the cops”. Bad as bass riff for a bad as song that shows that 2010 was the year for howling!

* Arcade Fire – Ready to Start (2nd Place)
By far the best song of what I thought was a disappointing album. This song has it all and to describe it with one word “Addictive”.

*Black Keys – Howlin’ For You (3rd Place)
Another killer tracker from a band with a small but loyal following, who I think are happy for things to stay that way. I just find myself bouncing around and just not caring when I hear this song, love it.

*The Walkmen – Blue as your Blood (4th Place)
I love this song in the way that you might love a girl. It is song writing at its absolute best and if it was a girl it would no doubt be the most elegant and stunning young lady in the room. Nothing forced or pretentious about it.

*Klaxons – Echoes (Tied for 5th Place)
This is what pop music just wishes it could be. Grounding shaking to the core, not a wasted ounce of effort. Epitome of what the Klaxons are all about. Shout out to “Twin Flames”, which might have been picked on another day.

*Interpol – Summer Well (Tied for 5th place)
From the self titled album, showing off the new look softer side to the 4 piece out of NYC.

And as for the albums that made the 2010 short list, drum roll please:

*Grinderman – Grinderman 2
Well der. Great contribution from a group of well travelled performers.

*Gorillaz – Plastic Beach
A change in pace and style from the rest of the list. What any electronic act should be aiming to replicate.

*The Walkmen – Lisbon
You just can’t turn this album off. It’s not possible.

*Black Keys – Brothers
Blue rock as it was intended. Big, bad and full of energy.

*Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – Beat the Devil’s Tattoo
Such a pleasurable and relaxing journey this album takes you on every time.

I really couldn’t find any other albums that I believe truly deserved to be put alongside 5 wonderful albums, Arcade Fire (The Suburbs), Interpol (self titled) and Klaxons (Surfing the Void) were solid albums from bands that I adore, but just weren’t the best work that I felt that these bands have delivered. Whereas the albums above were tight from start to end without a slip up or out of place song.

Honorable mentions go our to The National (just haven’t gotten around to having a proper listen, apologies to anyone I may have offended) and Tame Impala (just spent most of the album going, this is so 2009, where are all your new songs?). I couldn’t chose a stand out album, I just hate trying to say that one great thing is better than another. It just doesn’t work.

White Lies introduced themselves to the international music scene in 2008 with a wonderfully 80’s inspired, yet modern pop album titled “To lose my life….”. They have since followed this up with their recent release “Ritual”. The title alone lead me believe that I might expect something very deliberate and inspired, maybe even spiritual. After my first listen I must admit that I was a little disheartened in regards to what I was hearing. Yes it was unmistakable, there were definitely synthesizers being used.

OK so hear me out. I get this feeling with a lot of bands after the write the first album they are under the pump from their label to get a second album into the market before too long passes and their brand becomes forgotten. Song writing is not necessarily the strength of a lot of bands, so the label brings in a big time producer who takes over and repackages a band’s brand.

“Streetlights” possesses a very Joy Division ‘esc vocal to it which I haven’t seen on their previous work. This however develops throughout the track and is really nice piece of songwriting and to boot, is the most in touch with their debut album in terms of a nice clean sound with the subtle introduction of the keyboards in the background, showing a transition into a new direction. The album actually starts out quite nicely with “Is Love” and “Bigger than Us” as two very enjoyable tracks to lead off the record. And then things start to feel forced.

“Holy Ghost” opens with a very industrial sound which develops further throughout the track. I don’t know if this is an insult or not, but I couldn’t help but be reminded of the Mighty Boosh when listening to parts of this track. The more I listen to this track the more that aspect makes me laugh so I guess that means a tick for the insult column. Last year I fell in love with Band of Skulls who had a wonderful album with a single track which made my skin crawl. This song achieves the same feat for me, yet I don’t get the feeling that the rest of the album is strong enough to warrant using the skip button to move past it.

“Turn the Bells” begins with a yet another confusing industrial sound and then kicks in with a very cheesy sounding synthesizer however by the time it reaches the chorus, the different aspects start working together and reach a purpose. Despite this, I still am left with a dirty taste in my mouth. This track though displays the most organisation and structure of all of the songs on the album and I get a feeling that it could have been much more than what was delivered, time will tell. This seems to follow on with the track “Peace and Quiet”, which gives the expectation of a soft and delicate tone through the song which is achieved to a degree. What really gets on my nerves in this track is the drum machine and for a portion, more synthesizers, that has been used in this track really detracts from what it seems is the original intention when the title of the track was penned. To me this track is again showing promise and potential, yet just has too many distracting factors that are pulling me away from the meat of the song which feels a little rare for my liking.

This is an album that has clearly been written with a particular portion of the market in mind and I feel that they may find some success within that group. I find that with “To lose my life…” they managed to reach a greater audience through the use  of big vocals, traditional band structure and easy to follow pop songs. Every band should move in a new direction at some stage in their career, despite this, The White Lies seem to have made their transition for the wrong reasons. This album feels unfinished. The back end of the album gives the impression that they are stalling or at least are not clear in what the songs are trying to achieve. There is definitely enough signs of life on this album to suggest that we haven’t seen the last of a very talented band, but there will need to be some soul searching before they will be moving in the right direction again. I get the sense that this will be an album that will split White Lies fans and fail to attract a lot a new ones. Given some more time to ensure that every aspect of every song is serving a purpose might have lead this to be a great follow up album, unfortunately it falls frustratingly short of the mark. This is definitely not the heavenly experience I was hoping for and was surely lacking the emotional pull I was longing.

Headed down to the Enmore with Ben on a warm summers evening to check out Interpol on their “Falls Festival Sydney stop-over tour”. We arrived around 7:30pm and stopped in for a quiet beer at the Queen Hotel across the road.

Got to the venue halfway through Bridezilla’s support act to find a sound that reminded me of Howling Bells in terms of vocals. After a couple of songs the conversations from the pub continued on and Bridezilla were relegating to the status of background noise, however they left me wondering why an internationally recognised band like Interpol can’t manage to pull a decent support act. Then I got to thinking of any decent support acts that I had been to and couldn’t really come up with anything. And then I felt reallly ripped off.

Much to my delight though despite my ticket indicating “Floor – Rear” there was no “Barricade” (that was cheap I know) and we took up a spot half way back in the middle of the floor.

After a brief sound check Interpol took to the stage with little fuss and opened with “Success”. Bass guitar sounded a little off (out of tune or something) for half of the song but pulled it together in the later. The crowd was a little anxious for set to kick off which didn’t really take place until the 3rd track “Narc” which was when we realised that we were positioned next to some 18-20yo wanna-be’s displaying a little too much man love for my liking.  After half a dozen or so tracks it had become apparent that songs from “Antics” and “Interpol” were clearly in favour with the band, much to my delight as I had been heavily listening to “Antics” in the lead up to the concert with tracks like “C’Mere” and “Summer Well” grabbing my attention during the set. A few tracks left me wanting for a little more improvisation and variation for the standard record versions of the songs.

After what seems to be somewhat of a weak chant (seems to be common of late) for an encore the band returned and play four more tracks finishing off the night with “Not Even Gaol” which was a wonderful way to complete an enjoyable musical adventure. Ben added that he thought that the band had just done a lap of the backstage and come out the other side which I found a little humorous.

The set itself was really not that glamorous and seemed like they had paid the venue for their cheapest lighting package available, with nasty looking green and purple lighting and no sign of a back drop to boot. I have seen a few gigs where bands have managed to achieve very effective sets (Grizzly Bear come to mind) despite what seem to be a minimal lighting budget. The band themselves were not the most energetic that I have ever seen, with a small outburst of sorts from the lead guitarist showing the only signs of life on the stage for the evening other than a very lively violinist for Bridezilla. The poor keyboardist was tucked up the back next to the drummer and I forgot he was even there for half of the night so I guessed that the visual aspect of the concert left a little to be desired and I felt like I was watching a 4 piece for much of the night.

I had a hard time remembering the last time that I was Interpol at the Hordern a couple of years and many other concerts and festivals ago, however from what I can recollect not a lot has changed with the band despite a change in bass guitarist.  A poor visual in terms of lighting and energy left me feeling as though the band was passing time before they were ready to punch in their time cards and head off for a beer and left me wanting a little more from such a high quality act despite this the depth of the repertoire  ensured that the night was not doubt an enjoyable one.

Below I have tried to put together most of the play-list. This has proved to be a difficult task for me as I struggle to remember album names let alone track names.

Set List (to the best of my ability):

Summer Well
Take you on a Cruise
Heinrich Maneuver
Memory Serves
Obstacle 1

Slow Hands
Not Even Gaol