BRAND NEW/TOUR: Drawn From Bees – “Of Walls and Teeth”

Brisbane rockers Drawn From Bees have only just released their latest single “Of Walls and Teeth”, and you can take a listen to it right over here! It’s the first single from the bands sophomore album, The May King and His Paper Crown, which is set for release in 2012. Drawn From Bees bring together some fairly conventional guitar sounds on this single (the solos are neat though), but it’s the cool use of vocal melodies and harmonies that really make it stand out.

You can pre-order the single on iTunes from the 12th of August, and it’s officially available on the 26th.

Lately the band have toured the US (even got in a few shows at SXSW!), and they’ve just announced a set of Australian dates throughout October.

Check them out on tour if you get a chance.

Sat 1 Oct – Yah Yahs, Fitzroy
Sat 8 Oct – Masquerade Ball @ The Zoo, Fortitude Valley
Sun 9 Oct – Caloundra Music Festival, Caloundra
Sat 15 Oct – Oxford Art Factory Gallery Bar, Sydney
Fri 21 Oct – The Spotted Cow, Toowoomba
Sat 22 Oct – Restless @ The Loft, Gold Coast
Wed 26 Oct – Nanna Night @ Vinyl Bar, West End
Sat 29 Oct – The Railway Club, Darwin

Just to whet your appetite with another song of theirs (this is one of my favourites), here’s a great video from the band.

VIDEO: Regurgitator – “One Day”

This video really really creeps me out, but also makes me laugh a little bit.

Have you ever had the urge to just go into a room, cut up all these body parts, do a voodoo dance, then watch as the limbs and intestines move across the floor and merge together to form some giant monster thing, which then subsequently eats you, and then you escape by forcing your way out of its stomach? ‘Cause I sure know I have. I get that urge all the time.

This is the first single from their latest album, SuperHappyFuntimesFriends, which I only discovered today that you can download for free! Well, it’s “name your price”, but if you’re a poor uni student such as myself that may equate to “free”. I rationalise it by the fact that I’m gonna go and see them live on Sunday (you should probably check out the tour dates as well – MusicFeeds have them all over here). Anyway: you can get the album here if you want.

LIVE: The Streetlight Parade, live at The Phoenix, Canberra (04-08-11)

Two gigs in as many nights? I know, I need to slow down right.

Last night I adventured down to The Phoenix in Canberra with some friends who were keen to catch The Streetlight Parade (I caught the end of the previous band, and missed Crash The Curb afterwards). They were on second and were met with rapturous applause and a few screams (well, it was rapturous compared to the size of the room alright? It’s a small club). Their welcome was well deserved, because they certainly put on a great little show.

I can’t fault them for not jumping around there or seeming energetic, ’cause the stage there looks pretty restricting, but they definitely looked like they were enjoying themselves. Their style of rock was filled with lots of catchy guitar hooks and giant choruses, and they really know how to write a good melody or two. Imagine these light, quick guitar fills that really flesh out the songs and hold it all together. Keeping it simple, it’s memorable, joyful indie rock at it’s best. And it was so good that the crowd kept them up there for an encore – an encore of a song they’d already performed. No one cared though, because the song was cool as hell, and the band clearly were having fun. That kind of attitude is infectious when it comes to performing.

I’m looking forward to seeing these guys move up and up in the Canberra scene, and hopefully make it bigger as well. They seem to have the song-writing skills to get there.

Grab some of their free music over here.

LIVE: Kaiser Chiefs, live at the UC Refectory, Canberra (03-08-11)

It was always going to be an interesting night. Only being familiar with singles from all three acts on the night meant that, in a sense, I was going in blind (or deaf). Which was kind of exciting.

In comparison to the Chief’s Sydney and Melbourne sideshows, which I’m sure will sell out, Canberra’s reception for the international band seemed a little lukewarm at first. Word from one of the event organisers, before doors opened, was that around 600 tickets were sold, and my friend and I (who both arrived an hour before doors to get a good spot) were the only ones there for quite a while. Which surprised me, to be honest. But we were the first ones in, so I can’t complain.

First up were Stonefield, and they showed everyone exactly why they’re starting to make waves in Australian music. Although they didn’t appeal to me stylistically, there’s no doubt that their playing was tight. Their brand of early rock was huge and expansive, filling the Refectory, and they did a good job of getting people excited, especially considering their job was to support Kaiser Chiefs. Vocally, all four girls had lots of talent, and I think if they continue playing that well, along with solid touring, they’ll develop a very strong fanbase.

Next up were Papa Vs. Pretty. These guys have been getting a fair bit of support from triple j lately, and their live show is a good indication of why. Thomas Rawle’s voice really shone on single “Heavy Harm”, and from then onwards, their set seemed to get better and better. They manage to move musically between lighter, melodically diverse moments, to harder, crashing rock, in mere moments, and there was no doubt that they put all of their energy into the set. Unfortunately, whether it was my position in the crowd, or the sound set up, it felt as if the music wasn’t very clear during a few points. Ultimately though the band played well, and like Stonefield, have the potential to get much bigger. While I think Stonefield are more likely to satisfy a niche audience in comparison to Papa Vs. Pretty, both bands were excellent as supports.

By this time the Refectory was actually looking quite full, which was a nice feeling. Canberra doesn’t get many international acts visiting, so I feel it’s important that when they do come out, we encourage them to come back. The compulsory chants started, and then we got a couple of minutes of some pre-recorded jam playing while lights flashed. It was pretty exciting, even if it was a less conventional way to see a band come on stage.

Starting off with “Everyday I Love You Less And Less”, the band wasted no time in launching into a series of some of their most popular hits. Despite this, the mosh was surprisingly tame for the whole night, which was actually quite nice. Second row and not being pushed around? Sounds good to me.

Frontman Ricky held the band’s performance together in terms of stage presence. Leaping all over the place, he proved to be a gigantic ball of energy throughout the course of their set. Seriously, solar power? Wind power? Screw it, just get this guy on a treadmill and we’ll be fine. Drummer Nick Hodgson also put a huge amount of energy into his playing, however both guitarists looked a little bored. That said, I can’t fault the band’s playing one bit at all. I probably only knew just over half of their set, but what I knew sounded spot on.

On top of that, the band (and Ricky in particular) definitely know how to engage a crowd. Standing on the barrier a few times and encouraging everyone to sing along during certain moments (which there were plenty of), the band really showed everyone why they are big enough to tour internationally – whether or not you love their music, they really are entertaining.

Their set consisted of every single I knew (and one I’d forgotten I knew), with the notable exception of “Na Na Na Na Naa”. I also heard new songs from The Future Is Medieval that I liked, so all in all they really know how to please a crowd and balance out their material, which becomes an important skill to have when you’ve written four albums.

It’s a shame some of the other band members didn’t seem so enthusiastic, but maybe that’s their playing style. Kaiser Chiefs brought down the Refectory with their infectious rock, and I hope their show encourages more bands to do the same, because it was a great night at a venue with lots of potential.

Some of the photos courtesy of Nick Beecher.

BRAND NEW: Yr Friends and Johnny Foreigner

As if it wasn’t enough to have their anticipated third album slated for a November release (right near the new Los Campesinos! album as well!), Johnny Foreigner’s vocalist and guitarist Alexei Berrow has just released some new material that he played at a solo show. He performed under the moniker of Yr Friends, and right now there are four tracks for you to listen to or buy right over here (I might even review it soon). They’re fairly stripped back, acoustic numbers. Nothing too loud or fast – especially in comparison to a lot of JoFo’s existing work.

“But Jeremy!” I hear you say. “This post title is misleading. It implies there is new material from our favourite Birmingham band: JoFo. Not solo material from Alexei!”

Well fret not readers. Even though Yr Friends is ace, there is a new song from JoFo! If you pop on over to Sounds of the Camper Van you can hear a new song of theirs done acoustically. In the back of a van. Unfortunately it doesn’t look like the song title is given, but even though the van is less than ideal for recording a song in, it still sounds pretty neat. I’m getting very excited for this new album. Very excited indeed.

“I swear I’ve never been so far from home.”

REVIEW: Tim Fitz – “Infinite Space” EP

I don’t have many concrete facts to give you regarding this EP. It arrived in my inbox without a press release, and with only the most basic of information: Tim is 21, lives in Sydney, and wrote, played, and produced the whole release at his home. If you ask me, that’s quite an impressive feat giving how good it sounds! As an aside, let this be an important lesson to any PR types: long, convoluted press releases full of spin will not make me want to listen to your music more. I’m more likely to listen to your music if it’s good. Tim Fitz is proof of this.

The first track “Disposable Youth” opens the EP magnificently: tinkling pianos and thundering drums give way to a tremendous crescendo as the song builds. If you try one song, “Disposable Youth” should be it. The percussion in “Helplessman” sounds so glitchy and unpredictable, and the acoustic ditty “Box” feels so laid-back. This is a diverse EP, and it’s all the better for it.

All up, Infinite Space is quite short, clocking in at just over 12 minutes, but this is one of its best attributes because it just works. The songs don’t drag on, and the timing feels right. The release moves and adjusts so seamlessly, changing stylistically on a regular basis. After listening, you’ll notice it’s incredibly difficult to pin-point any one sound or pigeon-hole the release. It’s also refreshing to have such a short and diverse collection of songs, and it’s amazing how much is crammed into such a small time frame. Tim’s voice sounds great, and he could easily escalate out of the whole “bedroom musician” niche. However, an artist’s live show can be a large part of that transition, and I’ve got no idea where that stands right now.

Regardless, this is some great music from someone who does everything themself. It’s a brilliant testament to the things musicians can create without a label backing them. If you have a passion for it, if you want it badly enough, then you can do it: Tim Fitz is living proof of this. Infinite Space is a great release, and trust me – you have time to listen to it and to give it a go. Enjoy it and be inspired by it, because that’s what it will do.

Grab Infinite Space EP over here from Bandcamp (you can name your own price).

NEWS: New Kaiser Chiefs album!

The internet has certainly opened up more opportunities for bands to release music on their own terms, which is a brilliant thing. But I’ll admit, I never would have thought something quite this strange or out there would happen.

Kaiser Chiefs have just released their latest album, The Future Is Medieval, and it’s a fan-made album. A huh what?

Basically, you pick 10 of the 20 songs Kaiser Chiefs have made available, put them in order, then design the artwork. After which you fork over £7.50 and download your new album.

Now here’s the really interesting bit. For every version of your album they sell, you make £1.

At first I thought “Well, lots of fans are going to have to buy two copies of the album now – that’s a bit harsh”, but the last bit of information spices things up a bit. Kaiser Chiefs are letting other people make money from their music! I’m not sure I’ve ever seen that concept before.

If you feel like making your own album, or buying someone elses, jump over here and check it out. It’s a pretty neat idea.

And for all of you huge Kaiser Chiefs fans out there, or people who simply want all of the tracks, here are links to two albums which put together comprise of all 20 songs: Album One and Album Two. Downloading all 20 and re-ordering them over time sounds like the way to go I reckon.

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!

VIDEO: Guineafowl – “Little Fingers”

Awesome indie-rockers Guineafowl have had quite a big Wednesday!

On top of being able to tell everyone they’re playing SPLENDOUR IN THE FREAKIN’ GRASS (congratulations guys!), they’ve released their latest video for “Little Fingers”.

I’ve gotta hand it to them – I thought Botanist was done extremely well and had absolutely no idea what this clip was going to be like. Sure, people will complain that the reversed video is a gimmick or whatever. Those people are probably overly cynical and whinge about anything that comes there way. I for one don’t care that Coldplay and Eskimo Joe have done it before. This is a brilliant effort and would’ve taken a hell of a lot of practice.

In the order we watch the video, Guineafowl is actually regurgitating a banana. Seems kinda funnier when you think about it that way. But I digress. The vocals are extremely well done and it looks really cool.

TAKE A LOOK.

REVIEW: Various Artists – “Triple J Hottest 100 Volume 18”

2010 was a great year for music. We were lucky enough to get some amazing releases from bands like The National, Dead Letter Circus, Los Campesinos!, Birds of Tokyo, and Delphic. The Australia Day of 2011 reflected this, with what I thought was a fairly solid count-down. More importantly it also reflected a great year for Australian artists, with 51 spots taken out by some of our best talent. Australian artists even took out 4 of the top 5 places, and although I don’t quite like “Big Jet Plane”, I’m proud that Australian musicians have worked their ways into the hearts of so many voters.

What this means is that there wasn’t too much room to go wrong with the latest Hottest 100 compilation. Some Hottest 100’s have been a bit hit and miss, but the latest offering features tracks from  some amazing musicians. It includes some of the most popular artists of the year: Cee Lo Green, The Wombats, Arcade Fire, Adrian Lux, and more! And in all honesty, without name-dropping, I probably only dislike 3 or 4 tracks across the two discs. In my world, for a release with over 40 songs, that’s excellent.

This is one of the best Hottest 100 compilations I’ve listened to, and it’s a testament to triple j and their commitment to music that is not only good, but also Australian. Their support of Australian artists is shown in the poll results, and I’m proud to listen to a station with such a passion for local talent. No other station does this better than triple j (and sadly, I don’t think many other stations care).

Volume 18 is a brilliant compilation of some of the best tracks from 2010. It’s a snapshot of a musical year, and it’s worth buying: you’ll definitely get your money’s worth.