REVIEW: Yr Friends – “Yr Friends Am Shit At Poetry”

yrfriendsamshitatpoetry

Alexei Berrow’s “press release” for his third Yr Friends EP isn’t like the hard sell drivel that clogs my inbox. Refreshingly honest, it lacks the braggadocio of artists and dull PR agents who really ought to know better. Which is great, but as a result you can’t help feel that Berrow doesn’t expect much to come out of this side project. You get the impression that it’s a bit rushed. Done not without love, but still out of “necessity”. Which as it turns out, isn’t always a bad thing.

The instrumentation and recordings presented easily surpass Yr Friends’ previous efforts, but don’t quite break free of the DIY bedroom aesthetic – which is just as well, because this time around, Berrow’s heartfelt spoken word stories thrive off it. Never once does he sound contrived, yet you can never quite tell whether these words were penned in an afternoon, or over extended months. But does that really matter? The lyrics and instrumentation complement each other perfectly, and those familiar with his work will attest to Berrow being an excellent story-teller more than capable of turning a phrase or two.

Lewes Herriot, Johnny Foreigner’s longtime artist and new guitarist, called these songs “plays”. After multiple listens, it seems like a more than apt description, because disregarding the cover of Modest Mouse’s “Third Planet”, that’s exactly what we’re presented with: a loose three-act structure. A set of narratives that fit together in the most unassuming, yet graceful manner.

The drunken tales of girls, parties, and relativistic fame of “My Summer in Ibeefa” develop a hazily bright start to the release. The sullen beats almost make you want to dance, in a shuffle-around-your-bedroom kind of way.

We’re then rather abruptly thrown into “Adults, At Last”, which deals with heartbreak in its most potent, perspective-ridden form. You’d be forgiven for thinking that a bedroom musician doing spoken word about romantic loss would be self-indulgent and clichéd, but you’d also be wrong. The ticking metronome in the background annoyingly grates, but as Berrow reaches his final verse, the song pays off, painting a nuanced and visceral picture of an adult life removed from its past.

“I swear, I’d rip out the tongue of each boy that you kissed, martyr myself in the hope that there’s something you’ve missed, but six years later, we can sit round the table, make small talk with no sparks and call ourselves adults at last.”

So many artists rely on their youth and oft-projected naivety to form a connection and justify their feelings. Here, we’re told a story that bundles similar emotions together, but concludes with a numbing sense of maturity and resignation. While everyone is guaranteed to take different things from these songs, this is a blunt reminder of change.

“Another Friday Night at the Chloro Party” (I’m not entirely sure what a chloro party is either, but don’t Google it while you’re at work) begins by telling the story of a woman’s wedding, and gradually moves through her life’s moments of celebration towards that inevitable conclusion we all share. There are a few dark undertones, but the bright guitars chime out and make it without a doubt the warmest track present. It’s in this melancholic afterglow that Berrow, for all intents and purposes, concludes the EP, forming a loose arc of narratives around growing up and getting older.

Despite the conviction of the love interest in “Adults” (‘convinced yr future was uni, and uni meant out’) and the ‘plans for life’, part of a ‘future scripted out’ by the woman in “Chloro Party”, it would be presumptuous to suppose any the characters overlap in these tales. It would be equally presumptuous to suppose that Berrow even features in them himself, especially given that numerous songs on Johnny Foreigner Vs Everything were penned about the lives of others (“200x“, “(Don’t) Show Us Your Fangs“). This is ultimately irrelevant though, as the emotional sentiment expressed is as convincing as ever, feeling both effortless and devastatingly honest – immersing us in someone else’s life, fictional or otherwise, that would have gone unnoticed.

Yr Friends has developed rapidly over a short time. Following a distinctly lo-fi debut, Berrow then put together a refined, pleasant, and aching second release. Which brings us to his third EP, Yr Friends Am Shit At Poetry – which is a leap ahead (and side-ways) of its predecessor. Berrow’s cover of “Third Planet” by Modest Mouse closes the EP nicely, despite feeling tacked on, and it begs the question – would three songs be too short for an EP? Not necessarily, and regardless of Isaac Brock’s song-writing ability, Berrow’s original material is much more alluring here.

Alluring enough to draw you in and not only make you think, but make you feel.

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BRAND NEW: Be Forest – “I Quit Girls (Japandroids Cover)”

Be Forest

I really like Japandroids. I also really like “I Quit Girls”, which was a great closer to their energetic, explosive debut album Post Nothing. So I jumped at the chance to hear someone cover it.

All I can say is, I’m glad I did. It pays to be awake at 1am to see these gems appear in social media feeds.

Be Forest are a three-piece from Italy. Their debut album – Cold – came out last year. They create this beautifully hazy, washed-out, blur of distortion and bright shoegaze, and it gives the song a completely new feel. The cover is going to be a bonus track for the Japanese release of Cold, but here’s hoping we can get our hands on it elsewhere.

she wears white, six days a week –
she was just one of those girls.

Give it a listen!

LIVE: Bon Iver, live at the Sydney Opera House, Sydney (11-03-12)

Bon Iver

As Bon Iver took to the stage, they were welcomed with rapturous applause – and deservedly so. For Emma, Forever Ago won across an initial horde of devoted fans, and their latest album, Bon Iver, Bon Iver, was received incredibly well – so much so that it won the band a Grammy. Bon Iver have gone from strength to strength, and the excitement in the air was palpable.

The band took no time in launching into the appropriate opener of “Perth”. The first notes rang sharply throughout the hall, and to be honest – it felt a bit strange. After being so accustomed to the softer nuances of these tracks on record, to hear them explode forth and completely fill the Opera House was something else entirely.

But – apart from the rare moment where it seemed slightly too loud – it worked. Really well.

The nine musicians on stage changed instruments on a regular basis, but none of them ever faltered or missed a step. Saxophones, violins, horns and even a trombone were all present, all contributing to the musical landscape that formed over the night. I was sceptical about needing two drum kits at first, but even they proved their worth, providing a powerful intensity when needed (not to mention those jaw-dropping off-beats!). Having so many people on stage could have gone badly for Bon Iver, but the expansive majesty that came with it paid off.

However one of the most impressive instruments was one of the most natural. Justin Vernon’s voice is a thing to behold. What really stands out is the emotive force behind it, that can shift everything in a single moment. Lines like “Oh and we done it, because it’s right,” from the achingly beautiful “Wash.” took on an entirely new life, being forced out of Vernon’s mouth in the most uncontrollably cathartic way possible. His falsetto was pristine and rang out, and to say we were in awe would’ve been an understatement.

Bon Iver

Midway through the set, a seat was brought out for Vernon, and a crew member adjusted his mic. “These guys put my underwear on in the morning too,” he joked, before beginning what was arguably one of the most anticipated songs of the night – “Skinny Love”.

I was concerned that the frail, tender nature of the song might be crushed under the weight of nine musicians. But hearing the band bellow “my, my, my” in unison with Vernon was one of the most warming and memorable moments of the night. It almost felt as if they took on our role as the audience – for if this were a festival set, there’s no doubt that each and every one of us would have been singing along. But “Skinny Love” wasn’t the only song to have noticeable differences.

A mighty saxophone solo from Colin Stetson segued into the beginning of “Blood Bank”, which took on a much more direct and assertive approach. The slow-burning, delicate love song from the EP of the same name was transformed into a stronger and much more driven piece.

Credit must be given to the band for managing to adapt so many songs, some ever so slightly, to a new environment. However that’s not to say that they’ve lost their initial charm. Those of you that fell in love with the alluring subtleties of For Emma, Forever Ago will still find that connection live, just in slightly different places. Dynamically the band know exactly when to draw back, and when to burst forth, and it’s this that allows everything to fall into place.

After performing works from across their three main releases (“Wash.” and a solo version of “re: Stacks” being definite highlights), Vernon asked the crowd to join him during the final song of the night – and while it seemed odd to have to request participation in a moment like this, it felt necessary at a venue like the Opera House. The audience seemed to have far too much reverence – for fellow concert-goers, for the venue, and for Bon Iver – to spontaneously sing at the top of their lungs (although it didn’t stop some from holding up their phones for long periods). Maybe that’s why their efforts sounded so reluctant. Nevertheless, “The Wolves (Act I and II)” sounded magnificent, with the crowd repeating “What might’ve been lost” over a monumental finish.

Everyone was quick to stand as all nine musicians lined the stage, and applause filled the hall. Collectively, the crowd’s response seemed not only thankful for the amazing set we’d just witnessed, but also demanding of more. My generation has grown up to expect encores – not to be pleasantly surprised by them – and there was no way Bon Iver were getting away without one.

After some time, the band returned and the applause instantly subsided as people sat down again in anticipation. They then launched into “Creature Fear”, which built up to an immense wall of dissonant sound. Much like “The Wolves (Act I and II)”, the huge release of energy felt like an apt place to end the set – but we were in for one last song. Thanking the crowd once more, the band began to close the night with the slow dusty brass of “For Emma” –  again, earning a standing ovation.

It’s more important than ever that I now refer to Bon Iver collectively as a band. No longer is it just Vernon at the helm of this ship. The addition of other musicians added another element to their second album, it certainly adds a welcome element to their live show – and I’d like to think that it’s a form of the band that will stick around, because it sounded nothing short of astounding.

To witness such intrinsically beautiful music performed in the Opera House was a privilege. And while Bon Iver may not believe that they’re magnificent – everyone at the Opera House on Sunday most certainly does.

~

Check out some of the great photos taken by Music at the House over here on Facebook.


TOUR: Atmosphere and Evidence

Atmosphere and Evidence

Have I told you guys about Rhymesayers before? I might’ve mentioned them. Once or twice.

They’re a stellar hip-hop label who represent some amazing artists, and they’re bringing Atmosphere and Evidence to New Zealand and Australia this May. If you’re not busy slaving away at study or work, you should get along to a show. These guys have been around for years, and there aren’t many chances to check out artists of this calibre.

See all the details below, and a check out the video for Atmosphere’s “Just For Show”.

02.05.12 – Wellington, NZ @ San Francisco Bath House (On Sale Tues., March 13th: 1-Night)*
03.05.12 – Auckland, NZ @ The Studio (On Sale Fri., March 16th at 9am: iTicket)*
04.05.12 – Adelaide, AUS @ HQ (On Sale Mon. March 19th: OzTix / Moshtix)
05.05.12 – Brisbane, AUS @ The HiFi (On Sale Mon. March 19th: OzTix / Moshtix)
05.09.12 – North Hobart, AUS @ Republic Bar (On Sale Mon. March 19th: OzTix / Moshtix)*
10.05.12 – Melbourne, AUS @ HIFI Bar (On Sale Mon. March 19th: OzTix / Moshtix)
11.05.12 – Perth, AUS @ The Villa (On Sale Mon. March 19th: OzTix / Moshtix)
12.05.12 – Moore Park, AUS @ Hifi (On Sale Mon. March 19th: OzTix / Moshtix)

*Atmosphere only

VIDEO/TOUR: Bluejuice – “On My Own”

Bluejuice

Bluejuice are renowned for having cool video ideas. Anyone who didn’t find “Act Yr Age” hilarious should probably chill out a bit, and “Vitriol” will forever be a stellar example of doing budget film-clips right.

“On My Own” continues that tradition. It’s a karaoke video that looks like it was ripped from an old VHS, and they really nail the cheesy aesthetic. The song isn’t bad either. Check it out below.


Bluejuice are also hitting the road with The Cairos and Loon Lake (except in Brisbane). Check out the details!

All Tickets On Sale Fri Feb 24th – $25 Pre / $30 Door

THU 12 APR – WAVES, WOLLONGONG 
Tickets available from the venue & Moshtix www.moshtix.com.au, 1300 GET TIX & corresponding outlets

FRI 13 APR – THE METRO THEATRE, SYDNEY – ALL AGES
Tickets available from the Metro Theatre Box Office 02 9550 3666 & Ticketek www.ticketek.com.au, 132 849 &  corresponding outlets

SAT 14 APR – HI FI, BRISBANE
Tickets available from www.thehifi.com.au, 1300-THEHIFI (8434434), Kill The Music, Butter Beats-CBD & The Valley, Gooble Warming & Atlantis Music-Southport

THU 19 APR – SETTLERS TAVERN, MARGARET RIVER
Tickets available from Oztix www.oztix.com.au, 1300 762 545, Moshtix www.moshtix.com.au, 1300 GET TIX, Heatseeker www.heatseeker.com.au 08 6210 2850 & all corresponding outlets

FRI 20 APR – THE CAPITOL, PERTH
Tickets available from Oztix www.oztix.com.au, 1300 762 545, Moshtix www.moshtix.com.au, 1300 GET TIX, Heatseeker www.heatseeker.com.au 08 6210 2850 & all corresponding outlets

SAT 21 APR – THE GOV, ADELAIDE – ALL AGES
Tickets available from Moshtix www.moshtix.com.au, 1300 GET TIX & corresponding outlets

THU 26 APR – EUREKA HOTEL, GEELONG
Tickets available from Moshtix www.moshtix.com.au, 1300 GET TIX & corresponding outlets

FRI 27 APR – PELLY BAR @ PIER LIVE, FRANKSTON
Tickets available from the venue & Ticketmaster www.ticketmaster.com.au & corresponding outlets

SAT 28 APR – HI FI, MELBOURNE – UNDER 18’s ONLY (2pm – 6pm)
Tickets available from  www.thehifi.com.au, 1300-THEHIFI (843 443), Polyester Records-CBD & Fitzroy, Sight n Sound – Northcote & Boronia

SAT 28 APR – HI FI, MELBOURNE – (18+ 8pm to late)
Tickets available from  www.thehifi.com.au, 1300-THEHIFI (843 443), Polyester Records-CBD & Fitzroy, Sight n Sound – Northcote & Boronia

TOUR: Bomb The Music Industry! begin their Bring Your Own Band tour

Bomb The Music Industry!

Bomb The Music Industry! do some cool things. They endeavour to make every show all ages, even if it means paying venues extra to do so. They also try to keep all shows quite cheap, at around $10.

And you know what else is really cool? Sometimes they tell people to bring along instruments and help out.

Yup. They let people come along and play the band’s stuff with them, and that’s exactly what this Australian tour will be like. So grab whatever instrument it is that you play, and get along to one of these shows to play some music with Jeff Rosenstock (and potentially the rest of the band, although I think these might be solo shows) (oh, and I doubt this kinda thing will happen at Playground Weekender).

But yeah. Get out to a gig, okay? It’ll be fun. Promise.

You can also download their albums for free over here.

29.2.12 – Wollongong – Yours and Owls
1.3.12 – Brisbane – Between The Walls
2.3.12 – Sydney – Dirty Shirlows
3.3.12 – Sydney – PLAYGROUND WEEKENDER FESTIVAL
3.3.12 – Newcastle – The Pharmacy
4.3.12 – Canberra – The Phoenix
8.3.12 – Adelaide – Enigma Bar
9.3.12 – Melbourne – The Tote
10.3.12 – Melbourne – Disgraceland

VIDEO: The Weeknd – “The Knowing”

The Weeknd

For those of you that followed The Weeknd’s rise over 2011, it should come as no surprise that this video is fairly grandiose – at least in terms of concept, imagery, and length.

That’s not a reflection on his music – which can be incredibly lush and understated, or his character – which comes across as enigmatic and shy. Despite his increasing popularity, I think it’s got everything to do with his attitude towards his art. From the beginning, Abel Tesfaye has seemed like an artist with a vision. An artist who wants to do things his own way. Maybe this is him doing just that.

There aren’t many artists this young that would release a video close to 8 minutes long, with so much convoluted and abstract imagery. It’s special. It’s intriguing. And it’s entertaining.

The video is for “The Knowing”, which closes his debut mixtape House of Balloons.

Check it out below – and don’t forget that you can download his trilogy of mixtapes for free.