VIDEO: Slow Club – “The Dog (Acoustic for FRüIT)”

Slow Club

There’s something impressive about a song that works just as well on an acoustic guitar as it does with a full band.

FRüIT (an entertainment/art space in Hull, England) recently filmed Slow Club doing an acoustic version of their latest single “The Dog”. The harmonies, the lyrics, that chorus – they’re nothing short of wonderful. Sometimes I fail to see how anyone can honestly dislike this band.

You can see the video for the album version here, but check out the acoustic version below.


Photo via Slow Club’s Facebook page.

TOUR: Phatchance and Coptic Soldier’s “Hey, Where’s Your DJ?” tour

So you may have noticed I recently reviewed Inkstains (Acoustic) and The Sound of Wings 2, the most recent releases from Phatchance and Coptic Soldier.

Well, they’ve recently announced a co-headline acoustic tour around a few of Australia’s major centres to showcase their new material, and if you’re a fan of hip-hop this is not something you want to miss. They’re touring with a full live band, alongside collaborator and musician Jon Reichardt, and if their recent EP releases are anything to go by, this tour will be special indeed.

It’s a shame they can’t make it to more cities, but if you can make it out to see them you really should. Best of luck to everyone involved, I’m sure you’ll smash it!

See the below poster for details.

REVIEW: Coptic Soldier – “The Sound of Wings 2”

In case you missed it, I reviewed The Sound of Wings quite some time ago. Over here. Ultimately I felt it was an alright release, but that better things were to come from Coptic Soldier. The Sound of Wings 2 proves I was right.

For those of you unaware, The Sound of Wings 2 is an acoustic EP from Coptic. If you’re worried, don’t be, because the acoustic atmosphere suits Coptic’s rapping style more than ever, and it’s amazing how much of a difference it makes. This feels like a niche Coptic could easily slot into on a regular basis, because it works really well, and as a result the release sounds much more cohesive.

Like Inkstains (Acoustic), there’s new material, this time in the form of “I Hate Sleep (Acoustic) feat. Charlie Mayfair” and “Fight for the Fame (Acoustic)”, both of which are brilliant. The latter is a personal standout: musically with the guitar picking and strong back-up vocals, and lyrically.

Vocal melodies and hints of jazz instrumentation throughout the EP help it retain the soulful feel its predecessor had, and I don’t think that’s a sound you hear too often. Which is great, because ultimately The Sound of Wings 2 wins through its diversity. It really sets itself apart. Not content with being any normal acoustic release, it goes that step further to differentiate itself (an increasing trend I seem to be seeing with I Forget, Sorry!’s releases). Which is exactly what makes it such a strong release.

And the effort put into it shows. Coptic and Phatchance both reached capacity at Sydney’s Oxford Art Factory three weeks in a row to showcase these acoustic tracks. That alone should tell you there’s something special here.

The Sound of Wings 2 represents what feels like a natural progression for Coptic Soldier. It’s a big step from his last release (despite both sharing tracks), and it’s where Coptic’s real talent starts to shine. Amongst the mountains of musical trash thrown at us every day, The Sound of Wings 2 proves there is always something special out there – you just have to find it.

Grab lead single “I Hate Sleep (Acoustic) feat. Charlie Mayfair” from Coptic’s triple j Unearthed page here, and pick up The Sound of Wings 2 online here!

REVIEW: Phatchance – “Inkstains (Acoustic)″

You probably don’t remember, but last year I reviewed Phatchance’s debut album Inkstains. If you can’t be bothered reading it, let me just say it was incredibly positive. The album is amazing, and Phatchance is a very talented artist. His latest release reinterprets those classic tracks in a stripped back, acoustic setting, and it works surprisingly well.

This was the first time I’d ever heard a full release of acoustic hip-hop tracks, and it was certainly the first time I’d heard acoustic hip-hop done so well. Fans will be pleased classic tracks like “Mountain of Glass” and “Build It Up” get a chance to shine (the latter being the lead single). However what’s really impressive is the amount of effort put into the arrangements and instrumentation. Every track sounds great, with over-layed banjos and vocal harmonies playing a large part. The songs truly sound reinvented; Chance has done the original tracks justice. Unlike some artists who just play some guitar chords and count that as an “acoustic version”, Inkstains (Acoustic) takes it to the next level and firmly sets the bar.

Maybe it’s a testament to the effort put into the original tracks, or maybe it’s a nod towards those who helped out on the release (Charlie Mayfair, Jon Reichardt, amongst others), but for something so new and different, this short collection of tracks works very well.

Importantly, Inkstains (Acoustic) isn’t just some lazy half-baked release. In fact, it’s anything but. This is an amazing reinvention of some brilliant tracks, accompanied by the impressive tease “Infinity” from Chance’s next album. Lending the songs an acoustic air suits them, and at the risk of seeming like I’m sitting on the fence, they sound just as good as the originals, especially with Chance’s style of rapping. If I had to describe these songs in one word, it would be “refreshing”. Hopefully this will help introduce a whole new audience to some great Aussie hip-hop, because trust me: more people need to hear this.

Inkstains (Acoustic) smashes apart any stereotypes hip-hop has been branded with, and does so with stylish quality. This is just something you have to try.

Grab lead single “Build It Up (Acoustic) feat. Charlie Mayfair” here from Phatchance’s triple j Unearthed page, and pick up Inkstains (Acoustic) online here!

REVIEW: Mike Noga – “The Balladeer Hunter”

Mike Noga (drummer from The Drones) is set to release his sophomore solo album The Balladeer Hunter on the 1st of April. Filled with acoustic ballads and stories, Noga has written an album that will click with some instantly, and evade the interests of others. That’s what makes it special – for many, the best albums are those that stretch boundaries. The albums that have to be understood over time to be properly appreciated and enjoyed.

Whether it’s intentional or not, the album feels like a dusty trudge through a perfect Australian landscape. That’s probably an overdone cliche, but I don’t really care in this case. Noga’s voice and the instrumentation have a distinctive Australian feel to them. Noga crafts music of a style that doesn’t seem to be as prevalent as it used to be, but people are unlikely to claim this release is past its time. This is music that will appeal to those who listen and pay attention to what’s being said. Those who are prepared to take in an album for what it’s truly worth. Sure, it’s unlikely to hit the top 40 charts, but it’s music with a brooding depth to it. Music that says what it wants to say, and says it well.

Behind the finger-plucked guitars and the occasional deep stomps and percussion is Noga’s coarse voice. Not uncomfortably coarse, but enough to add texture to the songs. Lofty strings make an appearance every now and again to complement the melodies. It’s the simplicity behind these additions that makes the music interesting without detracting from the messages being sent. Occasionally the music takes a more upbeat turn, and at other times it’s accompanied by a darker atmosphere, like the ominous booms on the excellent “Walk With Me”.

Noga seems like an old fashioned story-teller, and I mean that as a huge compliment. These are songs that would not feel out of place around a camp fire. Speaking only of the music I’m familiar with, Noga’s style is comparable to Australian legend Paul Kelly. His song-writing and lyricism focuses more on getting a message and story across. A feeling. A sensation. Instead of drawing upon abstract metaphor after metaphor and trailing into ambiguity, like so many lyricists do, Noga crafts songs and tells stories that make perfect use of his coarse, deep vocals. The musical textures help paint a rather vivid picture.

For many listeners, myself included, this release will be something quite new. It’s outside of my usual listening. Which is one of the most exciting things about blogging and being deeply involved in music – discovering new things! I urge you to give The Balladeer Hunter a go. Sit down and listen to a track or two with an open mind. There are qualities deep within this music you won’t find elsewhere, and if you take the time to find them for yourself, you’ll be rewarded well.

Take a listen to “M’Belle” below and see what you think.

TOUR: The Falls on Wednesdays at the Hotel Hollywood!

In a musical landscape where venues unfortunately seem to be closing down left, right, and centre, it’s a great feeling to know that there are still initiatives and events out there that are promoting good new artists.

One such event is about to start at the Hotel Hollywood on Wednesday nights. Hosted by Doris Goddard who owns the hotel, it’ll bring folk artists The Falls (check out some of their stuff here!) in as the artists in residence. Their swooning, delicate acoustic tunes sound great, especially for stuff recorded on a 4-track. The Hotel Hollywood has seen artists like Fergus Brown and Georgia Fair pop by before, and seems to be an important, emerging venue for the acoustic/folk scene. The Falls will also be joined by some special guests each Wednesday for the next few weeks.

See the full details below, and get along to it (it’s free!).

WHAT: The Falls + special guests each week
WHERE: The Hotel Hollywood
2 Foster Street, Surry Hills, Sydney
WHEN: Wednesday nights – 8pm – FREE ENTRY!

WED 30th MARCH: THE FALLS + HELLO VERA + ACHOO! BLESS YOU
WED 6th APRIL: THE FALLS + PAUL AIDEN (UK) + ATLAS B SALVESEN
WED 13th APRIL: THE FALLS + JACK CARTY + ANDREW MORRIS (QLD)
WED 20th APRIL: THE FALLS + THE GREEN MOHAIR SUITS + DANNY WIDDICOMBE (QLD)

REVIEW: Bon Iver – “Blood Bank”

It may not be one of the newest songs floating around, but this soft, echoing love song ticks all the boxes for me when it comes to acoustic/folk music. After finishing debut album “For Emma, Forever Ago”, which garnered a positive reception, the Blood Bank EP was released. The title track was originally written during the LP’s sessions, but didn’t feel right, and so was included here with three newer tracks.

The whispery vocals and lightly strummed guitars leave long extended pauses adding to the character of the song, and scratchy whining guitars subtly lay over the final moments of the song as it fades out. And although it seems to end all too soon, the imagery and storytelling is captivating without being overbearing and arrogant. It’s almost like you can see the snow lightly dropping on top of the car. It sounds incredibly clichéd, I know, but for me it’s just an extremely visual song.

Some say a picture is worth a thousand words. Whether that’s true or not, I know that Justin Vernon certainly doesn’t need a thousand words to paint an amazing picture.

Score: 8/10

Grab a free download from Spinner here.